2005 Bodegas Comenge Ribera del Duero

Bodegas Comenge Ribera del Duero It's hard to imagine a more perfect setting for growing intensely flavored Tempranillo than Bodegas Comenge's spectacular 32 hectare estate, set at 2700 feet between the slopes of Curiel de Cuero and Pesquera. The soil is limestone, poor and rugged. The winters are harsh, the summers warm, with large temperature swings between day and night. In the exceedingly dry 2005 vintage, the thin-skinned Tempranillo managed to reach optimal maturity with fabulous sweet fruit flavors while retaining super acid zest. The finished wine is mouthwateringly rich, but light on its feet, a fleshy Spanish racehorse.

But Comenge isn't the only estate in Ribera del Duero to share such a privileged setting. Why then is this Tempranillo aromatically explosive, bright, vibrant and long, seemingly infused with that limestone soil, while the neighbors' wines (with all those fancy labels) are so simple?

Over 80% of a finished wine is comprised of water. Much of Spain's vineyards are irrigated, pumping water of nondescript mineral makeup into the ground. That water makes its mark on the plants' leaves and clusters, explaining why so many wines are dark in color, but without mineral cut. Comenge is dry-farmed (amazing to see the rows of grass growing between the vines, like a glistening green carpet). There's no irrigation. Here, the vines struggle like a world class athlete in the dry heat of the Spanish summer, spidering through this highly mineral soil, stretching out to quench its thirst on natural underground water preserves. This water, that's been seeping through the poor, fine soil since winter, is pumped through the roots to the vines, feeding the leaves and the clusters, infusing its mineral imprint on the grapes -- and ultimately, the finished wine.

Winter at Bodegas Comenge
Winter at Bodegas Comenge
This 2005 Ribera del Duero isn't just delicious, it's inspired. Now, can someone help us find more like this one?

Tasting Notes
"The 2005 Comenge, sourced from Comenge's estate vines, is 100% Tempranillo aged in barrel for 13 months. Dark ruby-colored, it has an enticing nose of dried herbs, coffee, black cherry, blackberry, and licorice. Smooth on the palate, it has a slightly roasted character along with plenty of ripe, savory fruit. Surprisingly forward, it will evolve for 1-2 years but can be enjoyed now through 2017."
90 points--Robert Parker's Wine Advocate