José Moro, president of Bodegas Emilio Moro, was clearly destined to be the ambassador for his family's iconic winery in Ribera del Duero, Spain. Meeting José, I was immediately captivated by his charm and larger-than-life energy, he doesn't just have a twinkle in his eye, he has a bonfire!
I felt transported as José shared stories of how his grandfather and father (both named Emilio) had dedicated their lives to the family's vineyards which were first planted in 1932 (the year of his grandfather's birth). Even during the hardships of the Spanish Civil War (1936-39), the Moro family nurtured their vines as others ripped them out to plant food crops. José grew up with an intimate understanding of vineyard life and as a small child he even cleaned the insides of casks by candlelight!
Representing the 4th and 3rd generations of the Moro family, Alberto Medina Moro and his uncle José are a charming duo.
José and his three siblings take their responsibilities as the third-generation very seriously and have instilled this pride in the next. José's nephew, Alberto, is enthusiastically representing the family business in the United States.
The Moro family's tenacity has paid off and their wines are regarded as some of the finest in Ribera del Duero. Located in central Spain in the region of Castilla y León, about 2 hours north of Madrid, Ribera del Duero is a dry region with extreme temperatures. The terroir is ideal for Tinto Fino, a variety of Tempranillo that has adapted to the unique conditions of Ribera del Duero. José described Tinto Fino grapes as having smaller berries than Tempranillo and thicker skins. Wines produced from Tinto Fino are generally big and bold with excellent aging potential. Emilio Moro wines are 100% Tinto Fino and beautifully balance power with strength and suppleness. Unlike many other wineries that use the designations of Crianza, Reserva, and Gran Reserva to indicate how long a wine has been aged, Emilio Moro abandoned this criteria in 1998. José said "for us, it is not a matter of barrel aging but the terroir." So instead of following arbitrary aging rules, Emilio Moro wines remain in the barrel for the amount of time needed for each wine to develop the desired character and expression of the vintage.
Finca Resalso 2016 ($18.99)
Named after their historic vineyard, Finca Resalso, which was planted in 1932, the label on this bottle depicts the third-generation of the Moro family in an endearing vintage photo from 1964. 100% Tinto Fino, the wine was made from grapes from their youngest vines (5-12 years old) and aged 4 months in French oak. Full and fruity with ripe blackberry and black currant flavors.
Emilio Moro 2015 ($25)
100% Tinto Fino, this elegant red is named is crafted from vines 12-25 years old and ages for 12 months in French and American oak barrels before bottling. More intense in color and flavor, this bold red has seductive flavors of rich black fruit with a touch of balsamic, lively acidity, and a delightful long finish.
A wine of tremendous finesse and agility that shows Tinto Fino's full range of expression, Malleolus is crafted from 100% Tinto Fino grapes from vines with 25-75 years of age. The name Malleolus has its roots in Latin and means small vineyard (majuelo). Aged for 18 months in Allier French oak barrels before bottling, this wine all about elegant intensity. Intense color, intense intense flavor, intense finish. An unabashedly sexy wine, Malleolus is silky, spice, juicy, and each sip reveals more nuance and intrigue. An easy wine to fall in love with and be warned that it may cause those you share it with to fall a bit in love with you!
Malleolus de Valderramiro 2011 ($129)
A superb expression of the Valderramiro vineyard plot that was planted in 1924, only 7,000 bottles of this exquisite 100% Tinto Fino vino were produced. This vino puts the full power and finesse of Tinto Fino on display. Ripe and luscious fruit are taken to a higher level with elegantly integrated flavors of spice, cocoa, tobacco, and earth. This wine evolves beautifully in the glass. A wine to savor with someone special.
Gracias to José for taking the time to share his family's wines with me. So many of us reflexively reach for Rioja when we select a wine from Spain but Emilio Moro elegantly shows that Ribera del Duero is a different, but just as valid and compelling, expression of Tempranillo. I loved the character, range and unabashed boldness of these Emilio Moro wines, a boldness that never sacrificed elegance and subtlety. I think my next trip to Spain will have to include a wine tasting at Emilio Moro. José also told me that he plays guitar and cooks delicious lamb - sounds divine!
image courtesy of Emilio Moro
If you're planning a trip to Spain, consider a visit to Emilio Moro for a tour and tasting. Until then, add some Ribero del Duero flair to your everyday life with their wines. And when you select a bottle of Bodegas Emilio Moro wine, you are supporting a socially conscious company that funds innovative clean water programs around the world. Salud!