24-03-2016

Ribera del Guadiana & Pago Los Balancines – Mata Negra 2012

This bottle was another random find at Lidl which is quickly becoming my go-to shop for playing “Wine Roulette”. To be embarrassingly honest, I thought it was a bottle from Ribera del Duero and while I don’t often seek out those wines either, I thought, “Sure, why not, let’s see what this is like.” It was only once I got home that I looked closer to see that it’s actually a wine from Ribera del Guadiana.

This DO was completely unknown to me as a) it’s in Extremadura which might as well be Portugal when you live in Catalonia and b) it’s a DO that looks to be the size of La Mancha. The second point is important because as we move towards typicity and defining wines in a more finite manner, a DO with 28,000ha of vineyards is anything but. It’s typical of how the Spanish authorities had worked in the past to define DOs as they had six Vinos de la Tierra with a handful of cellars spread out among them and must have decided, “Hey, if you put them all under one DO, there might be enough wine to justify it!” While I haven’t tasted the entire offer from the DO, I can’t see how joint typicity played in to it in the least.

If you look through the subzones that were the VdT’s, you’ll find that they represent pretty much all the main soil types found in Spain and at a wacky assortment of altitudes. This is not homogeneous and I can’t even find an actual total number of cellars for the region as the DO website has 17 listed but then other sources say there are 55. This Pago Los Balancines doesn’t appear in the list so it could be that there are a number of wineries using the massive facilities of others.

I’m pretty mystified by all of it and it’s way, way too far away to pop in for a visit to clear things up any time soon. Despite that, this bottle of Mata Negra (which I assumed is named after the subzone of the same name) is quite decent and if their other wines are like this, they hold potential.

I completely don’t agree with the scores awarded by Spanish publications though, especially one giving it a bewildering 97 points (seriously?!!) although it’s a well-made wine. It sits at the very upper end of one star in my three star rating and with more time in the bottle, say another year, it will breach two stars which is why I’ve given it a + as well. The wine has an upward trajectory as it settles with itself and what must have been an aggressive (probably new) oak treatment of 18 months. The final integration will end up a happy bottle although one could drink it now if the larger oak and tannin profile is preferred. At its optimal point it may be more in line with its price, but I would still find it a bit out of whack in those terms.

Mata Negra 2012
Brooding dark fruits, earthy moss, red candy, vegetal red pepper notes. Significant oak on the palate. Dry tannins not fully integrated initially but flesh out with air.

Grenache, Tempranillo, Cab Sauvignon 14.5% 16€
*+