Customer questions #1 – What does 'Roble' mean?

Someone asked this after spying the word on two of our floor-stacked wines, La Mano Bierzo Roble and Valtravieso Ribera del Duero Roble.

Roble is a commonly-seen but non-standardised Spanish labelling term indicating that the wine has been aged in barrel for a period that is less than that required locally to gain the starter Crianza designation, which is used for the youngest official category of oak-matured wine.

In the Spanish ‘hierarchy’ of wines, the ageing / quality ladder runs: Joven / Tinto (young, little or no oak ageing) -> Roble (some oaking) -> (moving onto the three legally-controlled terms) Crianza -> Reserva -> Gran Reserva.

So basically, Roble wines have seen a little bit of oak (less than twelve months anyway) and should present as young and fruity but with a bit of added weight, spice and interest from the wood. Similar terms to Roble include Semi-Crianza (which is slightly misleading as it conflates a legally-controlled term with an unregulated one) and the self-explanatory x meses en barrica (x months in barrel).

With 90% of Spanish blancos and rosados being totally unoaked, the whole Crianza / barrel ageing system as outlined above refers overwhelmingly to red wines and, in particular, to those coming from blue-chip DOs Rioja and Ribera del Duero.

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