A Phenomenal Feast at Emilio Moro (#WorldWineTravel)

Isn’t it the BEST when something you’ve been really looking forward to actually manages to top your expectations?! I can’t say it happens all the often, but our visit to Bodegas Emilio Moro was definitely beyond expectation.

I’d become a big fan of Emilio Moro’s wines while I was working at Wine Spectator in New York and always relished the chance to get to taste their wines, particularly their top-tier wines like Malleolus de Valderramiro and Malleolus de Sanchomartín. These were out of my usual price point, but I always found seductively delicious with their deep dark fruit flavor, spices, and silky texture.

José Moro, the company’s president, happened to be pouring when I stopped by the winery’s table at Wine Spectator’s Wine Experience in 2013. (The Wine Experience is big tasting event where selected wineries from around the world are invited to pour for the public and partake in panel discussions.) I took the opportunity to mention how much I loved the wines and that I was planning to visit Spain later in the year. He was extremely kind, gave me his card, and went on to help me arrange a visit to the winery.

Fast forward a couple of months to the day Greg and I were passing through Ribera del Duero. We were in a rather dejected state when arrived at Bodegas Emilio Moro. I love the wines of Ribera del Duero, but we only had time to visit two wineries due to the extremely aggressive travel schedule we’d given ourselves. I’d chosen the wineries carefully, but our first stop of the day was TERRIBLE. Without delving too deeply into the details, I don’t mind telling you that said visit was at Bodegas Tinto Pesquera. It’s been many years now, and this still holds the title for the worst winery visit we’ve ever had by a wide margin. It's too bad as it's a historical winery in the region, and I’d previously been a fan of the wines, however, I have not bought a bottle since.

Younger versions of Greg and I during our visit to Emilio Moro. Note: Our visit was comped as I'm a member of the wine industry. As always, all opinions are my own.

By contrast, the warm hospitality we received at Emilio Moro was like a balm to our bruised spirits. The woman who greeted us and gave us a tour was so lovely and gracious. (I’ve sadly lost all my notes from this trip, so I no longer have her card with her name.) I’d met José Moro just the one time which was very brief, and yet we felt like we were treated like old friends from the reception we received on his behalf, as he was out of town on that day. In addition to the tour of the winery and tasting, we also had the chance to have a wonderful lunch at the winery’s restaurant. At the end of the visit, our spirits had been completely restored!

It’s was so typical of this trip to experience such highs and lows back to back. This visit at least was a definite high.



Before I get into the winery’s history and our lunch there, let’s get to know Ribera del Duero a bit.

Map courtesy of WineFolly.com

This wine region is located on a barren plateau in Castilla y Leon in Northern Spain. The name translates to the riverbanks of the Duero, and it follows its namesake river for 70 miles between Valladolid and Aranda, and about two hours north of Madrid. 


Map courtesy of Ribera y Rueda

The growers of Ribera Del Duero have a tough climate to contend with. They’re fairly inland, so the climate is continental and swings between long, cold winters and short, intense summers. The altitude (600 m/2,000 ft) helps to cool things off at night in the summer, stretching out the ripening process, leading to grapes with intense color and flavor.

As is the case with a lot of Spain, Tempranillo is the star grape of the region – here it’s called Tinto Fino or Tinto del País – but the conditions and style here create wines with a very different profile than those of Rioja. (I think it’s really interesting to try these side by side.) Wines here tend to be much deeper, darker, more full-bodied, and more structured than those of Rioja. Historically they’ve also used more French oak, whereas Rioja used more American oak which added to the stylistic differences between the two regions, although nowadays you can find plenty of examples wines of wines using either in the latter.

The permitted blending grapes also vary a bit. Red wines must be made up of at least 75% Tempranillo, but you’re likely to find a little splash of Bordeaux Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec, as well as Garnacha included in the mix. (Albillo is the only permitted white grape.) One tends to think of the use of these international grapes as a modern thing, but the tradition here goes back a ways as Vega Sicilia, the region’s most iconic winery, has used Cabernet since 1864.

Infographic courtesy of Ribera y Rueda

The region’s winemaking history dates back to ancient times and it received its D.O. (Denominación de Origen) in 1982, although I’ve always felt that it deserves DOCa status (the top tier) along with Rioja and Priorat. It’s possible that I’m biased because it is the first Spanish red wine region I fell in love with. This might have something to do with the fact that, IMHO, the wines have a lot of crossover appeal for lovers of big California reds. If you love Cali Cabs, these wines have a similar ripe fruit character and structure, although typically with more earthy and minreally elements mixed in. If you’re a New World red drinker looking to dip a toe into Old World wines, I think these wines are a great place to start.


The history of Bodegas Emilio Moro goes back three generations. The first two, both named Emilio, grew grapes and sold them on the bulk market. In 1988, José Moro, took a big gamble and invested the family’s savings into buying winery equipment and the modern company was born. Today he runs the winery in Pesquera del Duero along with his brother Javier.

The family owns 200 hectares of their own vineyards, and they also control another 200 hectares via agreements with other growers. You can find the names of the family’s best-known vineyards on their bottlings:

  • Resalso, which was planted the year the 2nd Emilio Moro was born (1932) and has deep, cool soil. This is also their youngest vineyard.
  • Valderramiro has the winery’s oldest bush vines and is the birthplace of their great single-estate wine Malleolus de Valderramiro.
  • Sancho Martin has excellent ripening conditions and produces wines with strong tannic structure and marked acidity. These tend to be particularly good for aging.

The winery’s philosophy is to try to main a balance between tradition, innovation, and social responsibility. They use sustainable farming methods and dry farm their vineyard, believing that irrigation changes the characteristics of the fruit and prefer to showcase the personality of each vintage.

The family has worked hard to preserve the particular clone of Tempranillo that is found in their vineyards. They have been working with the University of León to obtain a pure version of this clone that is free of viruses and pathogens. You can see tasting notes for a wine from this clone below.

In addition to Emilio Moro, the Moro family also owns the Cepa21 winery in Ribera del Duero and D & D in Portugal’s Douro region. (You might’ve already guessed, but Douro is the Portuguese name for the Duero, so same river.)


The lunch we enjoyed at the winery after the tour was not particularly elaborate or fancy. It focused on showcasing products local tothe area and everything was simply presented and prepared, however, everything was well executed and really delicious. Both Greg and I remember this as one of our favorite meals of the entire trip.

White asparagus is typical of the region. These had a lovely buttery texture unlike anything I've experienced from asparagus before. 
A charcuterie selection is always welcome in our book!

Roast lamb is a specialty of Ribera del Duero– in fact, they consider themselves the roast lamb capital of the world. It works out perfectly then that their wines pair so well with lamb. The picture doesn't do justice to how good this was.

Creamy flan with caramel sauce for dessert.

The winery still offers this experience with the same/similar menu. I highly recommend taking advantage if you find yourself in the area.

A fun detail to look for on Emilio Moro's bottles – they all features pictures from the family's history.

We enjoyed the Finca Resalso 2012, Emilio Moro 2010, and the Malleolus 2009 with our lunch that day, but as I mentioned, I lost my notes from this trip. However, I was able to unearth tasting notes for their wines for similar vintages.

These wines are all 100% Tempranillo. Click on the names for more info.

Clon de la Familia 2010
Average Price: $447    
Nose: Smoke and game, char, tobacco, dark licorice, sweet spice, blackberry, and plum.    
Palate: Blackberry, plum, black cherry, Dutch chocolate, espresso bean, smoke, tobacco, and baking spice. Brooding and complex.

Malleolus de Sanchomartin 2010
Average Price: $148
Nose: Blackberry, Black cherry, red plum, dark raspberry, red flowers, baking spice, moist tobacco, licorice, and cocoa.    
Palate: Silky blend of plush back and tart, dark red fruits, dipped in chocolate, with light hints of orange peel, red flowers, baking spice, licorice. Modern style.  

Malleolus 2010
Average Price: $47    
Nose: A little bacon, blackberry, tapenade, and coffee.    
Palate: Blackberry, and mocha flavors. Still a little young (at the time of tasting years ago) and tannins were little rough to start but opened up and smoothed out with air.

The winery also makes more affordable wines as well. The Finca Resalso usually runs right around $20. I recently opened a bottle that I bought for $18 at Whole Foods.

Finca Resalso 2019
Nose: Black cherries, red plums, and white pepper.
Palate: Similar fruit notes were joined by smoke, pencil lead, and a few flower petals. Simple but bright and rich. It does also benefit from getting a bit of air, so I recommend decanting if you can. Besides the pairing below, this would make a good burger wine.

Lamb and Camembert Pockets for Pi Day

I love Pi Day. When we lived in NY my girlfriends and I would sometimes have a Pi Day potluck with both savory and sweet pies. It was always a lot of fun!

Somehow, this year it would have completely got away from me if not for reminders from these ladies on our group text chain. I wavered between pie ambitions and laziness. As we were out of a lot of things, laziness won out. That said, I could not let the day go by without making something to celebrate the day.

I found I had puff pastry dough in the freezer and I decided to make use of it. I also had lots of lamb ragu leftover after making Instant Pot Lank Shanks and some leftover Camembert. These all came together to create very easy individual pies. It’s a great way to use up the leftovers of many saucy meat dishes. I’d recommend keeping the leftovers chilled as you’re forming to the pies so that it’s easier to work with and the meat will get saucy as the pies bake in the oven. Similarly, I’d also recommend cutting up the cheese into portions and then stick them in the freezer for 20 to 30 minutes so that it also melts more slowly in the oven. A non-recipe for the pies follows. 


For something so simple, they were sooooooooo good! It was hard to keep from eating them all. Seeing as how lamb work so well the wines of Ribera del Duero, I used this an excuse to open the Reslaso and the wine worked beautifully with the pies! This meal definitely punched above its weight class in every way given the minimal effort that went into putting it togehter. 

lamb, pies, savory pies, easy
non-recipe, leftover makeover
American, French
By: Nicole Ruiz Hudson
Lamb and Camembert Pockets

Lamb and Camembert Pockets

Prep Time: 30 MinCooking Time: 20 MinTotal Time: 50 Min
This is a tasty non-recipe (so no set quantities) to make when you have leftovers of a meaty ragu.


  • Store-bought puff pastry dough, thawed
  • Lamb Ragu (or meat sauce of your choosing), chilled
  • Camembert (Feel free to experiment with other cheeses – I think goat cheese would also be very good here.)
  • Any additional seasonings you desire – I added a bit of smoked paprika to the ragu I’d previously made.


  1. Cut the Camembert into pieces and chill in the freezer for 20 to 30 minutes to firm up. (Note: If you’re experimenting with other cheeses, you might not need to worry about chilling firmer versions.)
  2. Preheat oven to 425°F.
  3. Unfold the pastry dough and cut into desired sizes. I found it easiest to simply cut along the creases where the dough had been folded to form 6 long strips.
  4. Spoon and spread chilled ragu on one half of the pastry strip, making sure to maintain about a ½ inch border from the edge. Layer pieces of cheese on top of the ragu.
  5. Fold the pastry over the filling so as to cover it. Use a fork to pinch the edges of the pockets together and seal them.
  6. Place the formed pockets on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
  7. Bake the pockets in the oven until golden brown – about 10 to 15 minutes.
  8. Remove the pockets from the oven and allow them to set for a few minutes, then serve hot.
Did you make this recipe?
Tag @thesommstable on instagram and hashtag it #sommstable
Created using The Recipes Generator

Explore other posts related to our Iberian Road Trip:

The rest of the World Wine Travel group (#WorldWineTravel) will be exploring Castilla y Leon this month, co-hosted by Alison on AdVINEtures and Lynn of Savor the Harvest. You can read the invitation post on Lynn's blog.   

Be sure to check out the rest of the group's posts:  
Additional reading and sources used for this post:
This post contains affiliate links, including these Amazon Associate links, from which I might receive a commission at no cost to you



  1. I love reading about your travels and adventures, Nicole. It seems like a lifetime since we were able to get on airplanes and go anywhere, doesn't it?!? The world will open up soon enough. Thanks for the inspiration to use my puff pastry for a savory! Soon.

    1. Knock on wood to the world opening up soon! Thanks Camilla.

  2. Haven't had a Moro in ions, glad to read such great things about your visit and the wines. Your food always pulls me in Nicole. I happen to have ground lamb and puff pasty dough is like yogurt here in grocery stores (prolific). Pockets... great idea!

  3. I'm so glad you received a warmer welcome at Emilio Moro! I've always enjoyed their wines and had the chance to meet Jose Moro a few years ago when he came to Miami promoting Cepa21. Such a great ambassador for the winery and the region. Love the pic of you and Greg, too!

    1. Night and day difference! So great that you had a chance to meet him as well. You're so right -- he's a great ambassador to the region.

  4. I'm glad your day was saved, I've had a few visits like your morning. Highly anticipated and highly disappointing (and a waste of precious time). And sadly for them, my never buying another bottle.

    1. It really is too bad to have one's appreciation of a winery completely dashed when you've made the effort to go visit. In this case, the woman who led the tour was downright rude. Luckily, the second half of the day more than made up for it!

  5. I am so enjoying hearing of your adventures in Spain. This sounds like a fantastic memorable stop. I have not tasted the wines of the region and now will definitely look to do a side by side with a typical Ruoja to see how the Tempranillos differ.

    1. Thanks Robin. And you definitely should! It's a really useful comparison to show how different Tempranillo can be.

  6. Nicole, Great reading about your time at Emilio Moro and what a better visit than the previous one. Beautiful photos of food and scenery and I love your pies. An enveloping read, you pulled me right along for the ride. Cheers.

  7. Thoroughly enjoyed your story about visiting Emilio Moro and good for you for calling out the winery that was rude. I've been wanting to compare Rioja and Ribera del Duero side by side. Now inspired to do that!

    1. Thanks so much Linda! And yes, it's a good comparison.

  8. Thanks for the introduction to Emilio Moro and your Lamb Pocket recipe Nicole. It looks and sound great + Lamb and Ribera del Duero = Winning!


Thanks so much for leaving your comments and questions. I always love to hear from you!