Tabula – Boutique Winemaking in the Ribera del Duero

Bodegas Tabula

On a recent trip to the Ribera del Duero, I was lucky enough to visit Bodegas Tabula, a fascinating boutique producer situated within just over 26 hectares of rich limestone soil in the Olivares del Duero.

Having visited this region in the past, I was once again amazed by the wine produced here. The Ribera del Duero captures that rustic, earthy character that really symbolises Spanish red wine but also has winemakers who are prepared to experiment with other varietals and winemaking methods.

Tabula really is testament to what this region is all about. The team here has an obvious passion for producing wines of great character, promoting the terroir of the Duero, with deep rich Tempranillo-based wines, but likewise embracing modern winemaking techniques and varietals such as Cabernet Sauvignon.

However, what sets Tabula apart from many other producers within the area is the small scale, hands on production. What Tabula does so well is to create consistently high quality wines across their range: their entry level wine Damana 5, receives the same care and attention as their top cuvee, the Gran Tabula.

When I visited the winery recently, the harvest was just coming to the end as the small team finished the last of the picking; all carried out by hand. The team here consists of just seven people, with an extra 10 around harvest time, small by any account.  Being so small, Tabula are able to do things slightly differently to their neighbours. They take a more detailed approach in the vineyard, allowing them to spend more time with the grapes before deciding when to pick. The 200,000 kg picked this vintage took around 25 – 30 days to bring in. Following handpicking, the process continues with a rigorous sorting of the grapes, which is repeated several times to ensure only the best berries make it through to their 150,000 bottles.

At Tabula all the cuvees spend the same length of time in the bottle before release, as they have spent in oak, allowing the wines the time to mellow and evolve. For example the Gran Tabula spends on average 16 – 18 months in barrel and then the same in bottle before release.

A meticulous approach is taken to the selection of oak for the cuvees. Gran Tabula in aged in 100% new French oak, Tabula Crianza in 50% new oak and 50% 1 vintage old oak, while the Tabula Damana 5, an early drinking style, is aged in oak that has already been used for 2 vintages.

Tabula Damana 5

The cheapest of the Tabula wines, Damana 5 represents outstanding quality for the price.  The grapes are sourced from vines around 8 – 10 years old in a 22 hectare site, producing around 100,000 bottles.  Like Tabula’s other wines, all Damana 5 grapes are handpicked, and aged in French oak for 5 months, and 5 months in bottle, hence the name.

For most vintages the blend for Damana 5 consists of around 96% Tempranillo and 4 % Cabernet Sauvignon.  The wine has a rich, lush berry fruit flavour, with an elegant finish, punching well above its weight in this price range.

Gran Tabula

The Gran Tabula cuvee is the stand out cuvee from the Bodega, and one of the best wines of the region, even with stiff competition from such properties as Pingus and Vega Sicilia.  The grapes for this wine come from a small 4 hectare plot of old vines, with many up to 100 years old.  Production of Gran Tabula is very small with only 3000 – 4000 bottles produced every year.  With a growing fan base in the Far East and America the production of Gran Tabula does not go far!

Gran Tabula is 100% Tempranillo, however in some vintages this changes slightly as they meet the required structure and characteristics with a small amount of Cabernet Sauvignon. It is aged for 16 – 18 months in new French oak, and the same period in bottle before release. 

Check out the video of Tabula’s Sales Manager Armando Garcia talking about the making of Gran Tabula.

Rob Pickard
27th October 2010

Company No. 2550982 | 109a Regents Park Road London NW1 8UR | Call: 0845 263 6924 | AWRS Number: XVAW00000101595

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