Matthew's World of Wine and Drink

About Matthew's World of Wine and Drink.

This blog began as a record of taking the WSET Diploma, during which I studied and explored wines and spirits made all around the world. Having passed the Diploma and become a WSET Certified Educator, the blog has become much more: a continual outlet for my passion for the culture of wine, spirits, and beer.

I aim to educate in an informal, enlightening, and engaging manner. As well as maintaining this blog to track my latest enthusiasms, I provide educational tastings for restaurants and for private groups. Details can be found on the website, and collaborations are welcome.

Wine is my primary interest and area of expertise and this blog aims to immerse the reader in the history of wine, to understand why wine tastes like it does, and to explore all the latest news. At the same time, beer and spirits will never be ignored. 

For the drinker, whether casual or professional, today is a good time to be alive.

Aster Ribera del Duero 2008

Aster Ribera del Duero 2008

Ribera del Duero is one of Spain's most prestigious wine regions, producing intense, concentrated wines mainly from Tempranillo (locally called Tinto del País). It's inland, in the middle of Spain's hot, arid, continental climate. It would be too hot there to produce quality wine were it not for altitude: the best grapes are grown at up to 850m where the nights are much cooler. This leads to a longer, more gradual ripening, resulting in more complex wines than the simple wines produced at much lower altitude.

It's still hot, and Ribera del Duero produces different wines from Rioja, fruitier, more tannic, and more likely to be 100% Tempranillo. But they're just as ageworthy, time softening those tannins - I prefer to drink Ribera del Duero when it's older as the wines can be closed and tight when young.

Which is why I enjoyed the Aster Crianza 2008, a fine example of an older Ribera del Duero at a good price. Owned by one of my favourite Rioja producers, La Rioja Alta, it has the classic characteristics associated with quality Spanish wine. The grapes are grown at 780m altitude and although it's technically a Crianza it was aged for a lot longer than the minimum requirements -  despite now being nine years old, it was only bottled 18 months ago. The wine has a tannic, oaky structure, spices, and rich, ripe red fruits, all of which have been mellowed with age and made more complex by mature, earthy aromas. Very drinkable and food friendly.

Price: $29

Vintage: 2008

Grape Variety: Tempranillo

Region: Ribera del Duero, Spain

Alcohol: 14%

Ageing: 70% new French oak for 22 months; bottled in 2016

Rating: ✪✪✪✪✪

Drink: now-2025

Food pairing: steak, game

Château Coutinel "On l'appelle négrette" 2016

Château Coutinel "On l'appelle négrette" 2016

Alexander Jules Amontillado 3/10

Alexander Jules Amontillado 3/10