That afternoon we got together for lunch at César and José-Luis’s man cave not too far from the winery of Pagos de Matanegra itself. It was snowing intermittently outside and we were also paid a visit by the resident feline!

Our hosts were very not only gracious but also excellent cooks it turns out. We had good conversations in our broken Spanish and his really good English. Our discussions were pretty passionate and we talked about America, Spain, Olmedillo, Reno and of course wine.

Things got pretty heated when we were talking about one particular football player. We won’t name him but lets say he plays for Real Madrid and has some fancy footwork! Lunch was lamb chops grilled on vine cuttings. We also had bread, local cheese, olives, blood sausage and some excellent mushrooms and setas that José-Luis’ wife had so graciously prepared.The wines were all Pagos de Matanegra!The winery as César put it, is modest. The wines are anything but. I would rather have a wine where most of the efforts went towards the wine in the bottle than the marble floors of the tasting room. Honestly, you can’t take the marble floor home with you, can you?The Matanegra wines are 100% Tempranillo It is not blended with anything. They only make 3 kinds of it. The difference is the vineyard they are sourced from and the time they have spent in oak. These are full throttle Tempranillo! Wines in Spain are classified based on how long they spend in oak. Matanegra only uses 100% French oak barrels. Most of Ribera del Duero have been going in this direction with their oak.

2012 Media Crianza (Red label). This wine has only spend 7 months in oak. This is a young wine. Its fresh and bright. It is deep purple in the glass with violet at the edges. The nose is all plum and blackberries. A very easy to drink wine, it holds it’s bright notes and reminds me of cherries, cinnamon and anise and a hint of smokiness. Due to the limited oak exposure, it is very fruit forward. This stuff is smooth. You need to drink this one. Buy this by the case and have it on every Tuesday night. This wine can make leftover pizza taste yum.  It’s that good. Of course, serve it your friends, but don’t tell them what you paid for it! While it shows it’s best young, you could hold on to this wine easily for a couple of years.

2009 Crianza (Silver label). This wine has spend 14 months in French oak. The 2009 was a fabulous vintage. This wine is bright crimson. It smells good, this wine! Besides the notes of red fruits, you will detect some spices, a dash of rosemary and  a hint of fine cigar! The tannins are well integrated and it goes down like silk! The acids, fruit and tannins are well balanced her. When I tasted it, I had visions of backyard barbeques, hamburgers and pizza. I always have visions of pizza! If you make lamb burgers and serve top it with some nice feta and serve this wine, I warn you that your guests won’t leave. Good thing about this tempranillo is that it will go well with split pea soup topped with bacon. So yes, get this wine, drink it now or drink it in Winter. This will keep in your cellar for a good 4-5 years and evolve well. But honestly, you wouldn’t have the patience.

2009 Vendimia Seleccionada (Gold label). Remember those 80+ year old vines? The grapes from this wine came from there. Extremely low yielding, this is concentrated juice!  When César offered it to me, I had just been bowled over by the Crianza. I told César that I prefer the former as it was so darn delicious and I was constantly reaching over for the bottle. He had a hurt look on his face as he said,”But thats our best wine!!” Honestly at that point, the Crianza was my favorite wine. Of course it was just served from the bottle and wasn’t decanted or such. This wine needed time. It needed time and air. It was like some sleeping beautiful ancient mythical creature that had been woken her up from her slumber. It needed to stretch out  and spread it’s wings. An hour later, I went back to this wine. And how it had changed!! It had a beautiful floral nose. With time you could see the rich perfume of this wine evolving. It had notes of cocoa, vanilla, anise, fine leather, pencil, fine cigars and red and blue fruits. The finish was long and it lingered on the palate. This is a gorgeous wine.This is Ribera del Duero at it’s finest. This is the raison d’être for this place. This is why this place exists! Wow!

Imagine this wine with a good leg of roast lamb or a nice steak and you are imagining well my friend! This is what you want to drink with your Easter lamb or your anniversary filet mignon. If you are really hedonistic, this is what you want to drink every weekend! This is the kind of wine you don’t want to tell your friends about, because then they will expect you to share.  But our advice is to share this wine with your friends. They will love you more for it. It’s that kind of wine. Drink this! For this price, buy a bunch of bottles. They will age for 15 years or more. If you want to drink it today, just let it air out for a couple of hours. You will see that I am not exaggerating.

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