Ribera del Duero is a large wine-growing region in the autonomous community of Castilla y León to the northwest of Madrid. The Duero is an important river in the Iberian winemaking world since it originates in Spain and crosses the DOs of Ribera del Duero, DO Cigales, DO Rueda, DO Toro and DO Arribes del Duero before...
Ribera del Duero is a large wine-growing region in the autonomous community of Castilla y León to the northwest of Madrid. The Duero is an important river in the Iberian winemaking world since it originates in Spain and crosses the DOs of Ribera del Duero, DO Cigales, DO Rueda, DO Toro and DO Arribes del Duero before crossing the Portuguese border and becoming the mythical river that gave birth to the Porto wines, Douro. The Spanish wines of Ribera del Duero are essentially red and are mainly made from Tinto Fino (Tempranillo). They are particularly dark and concentrated, and are high quality wines with medium to long ageing potential.
The Denominacion de Origen was obtained in 1982, yet wine has been made in the region for more than 2,000 years. In the 10th century it was already considered one of the greatest Spanish wines. One estate in particular has helped to propel the region's fame, the Bodegas Vega Sicilia. The estate received the most prestigious international awards as early as the 19th century and helped to bring recognition to the quality of the Ribera del Duero's terroir and wines all over the world. Since the announcement of the D.O., the region has been considerably modernised and has received numerous financial and technological investments that have allowed the quality of the wines to be raised even further.
Castilla y León is located on the great plain of the Meseta, wedged between Cantabrian Cordillera to the north and Sierra de Guadarrama to the south. The Basque coast is more than 250 kilometres away, so it is very hot in the Valladolid region, and the River Duero is more than beneficial for cooling and humidifying an almost desert-like region. The chalky soil is a blessing, absorbing and retaining the little rainfall to return it to the vines throughout the season.
Ribera del Duero is one of the largest DOs in Spain! There are more than 8,500 estates on 22,000 hectares. Almost exclusively red wines are produced here. Some of them are made from young vines and are supple and fruity and ready to be drunk quickly. The exceptional heritage of old vines enables the production of the great cuvées of Reserva which are called this due to long passages in new French oak barrels and can be kept in bottles for 10 to 20 years.
Tinto Fino (Tempranillo) is necessarily the majority in the Spanish red wines of the Ribera del Duero. This grape variety reveals a concentration and structure much more powerful than its neighbour from Rioja, which is grown in a less extreme climate. When it is not 100% present, it can be accompanied by native varieties such as Garnacha (Grenache) or international varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot or Malbec.
We can sometimes find on the labels the same terms related to ageing as in Rioja : Joven, Crianza, Reserva and Gran Reserva. Crianza and Reserva are certainly the 2 terms most used in Ribera del Duero to indicate a rather evolved and lightly to moderately woody wine. Roble is frequently encountered, it is a woody Joven style. Gran Reserva is much more rarely used.
Until recently, no one had had the chance to taste the extremely rare Ribera del Duero white. In fact, the little wine produced was reserved for the personal consumption of the winemaking families. The local native grape variety, Albillo Major, is nevertheless present in the vineyards (almost 500 hectares) and has mostly been used to give natural freshness and delicate aromas to red wines or to be distilled to produce Spanish Brandys (grape brandy, similar to Cognac). The first white wine was officially created in 2018.
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