Ribera del Duero is a Denomination of Origin located on the northern plateau, bathed by the waters of the River Duero, where they produce delicious and recognised red wines with great complexity made from the Trinto Fino grape variety.
The D.O. Ribera del Duero is located in Castile and Leon, in the north centre of the Iberian Peninsula, and it extends for a long stretch of about 100 kilometres along the banks of River Duero and it passes the provinces of Soria, Burgos, Valladolid and Segovia.
It is believed that Phoenician traders, 1000 years before this era, introduced the most advanced techniques of growing grapes to the area. A few centuries later it was the Romans who came to cultivate these vineyards with the aim of supplying the wine to their armies.
In the late Middle Ages, around the tenth century, and the cleric hand, is when they started to expand the wine of the Ribera del Duero. The monasteries multiplied, and with them, the culture of wine growing throughout the country.
In the twelfth century, monks from the Cluny Abbey, in France, began to make their own wine in Valbuena de Duero. In the thirteenth century they began to regularly harvest and the first wineries began to appear in villas. The wine became a key for both culture and economic development in the area. Production increased, local commerce intensified and the market extended to all of the Kingdom of Castile.
During the fifteenth and eleventh centuries they began to control production and quality of the wines produced in the area, however they were still rustic wines. It was the second half of the nineteenth century, when the Lecanda family founded a winery on the banks of the River Duero which over time has become legendary. From imported varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot or Malbec it managed to produce exceptional wine. Vega Sicilia.
In 1898 phylloxera reached the Ribera del Duero, a great plague that caused a major economic crisis which was a costly recovery.
In the 70s, another name would mark the history of the production in this area. Alejandro Fernández founded the Bodega Pesquera. His wine had the same name and it rapidly became one of the most iconic wines produced in Spain.
In 1982 Ribera del Duero got its deserved recognition, becoming a Denomination of Origin. Many vineyards were replanted and many wineries appeared, from cooperatives, family businesses or large wineries that started investing in the technology of wine making. Since then it has refined the production of winemaking to reach international recognition which is enjoyed in the D.O. today, thanks to the aromatic, soft and velvety wine.
Character: grape, soil and climate
D.O. Ribera del Duero is nestled in the northern plateau of the Iberian Peninsula, at an altitude between 750 and 1,000 metres, following the course of the River Duero. The vineyards are located close to the banks of the river. It is generally an undulating terrain, formed by tertiary sediments of a clay nature, although there is some limestone in the area that is higher and further away from the river.
The D.O. has a continental climate with extreme temperatures ranging from warm summers with sudden temperature changes during the night, to very cold winters. Autumns are generally cool, with moderate rainfall and spring frosts are frequent, delaying the sprouting of the vine.
Ribera del Duero has a high brightness, with nearly 2,500 hours of sunshine annually to ensure the perfect ripening of the grapes. The reigning variety of grape in the D.O. Ribera del Duero is the Tinto Fino, it is called this in the Ribera del Duero and it is known as Tempranillo in other areas of Spain like La Rioja. The Tinto Fino variety occupies about 60% of the vines planted in this D.O. It is perfectly adapted to a variety that offers a great acidity, allowing the development of elegant and well-structured wines.
International varieties are also cultivated like Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec and Garnacha Tinta, as well as the white grape variety Albillo.
Leading wineries in D.O. Ribera del Duero
Two historic wineries should get a special mention from the D.O. Ribera del Duero, as they were among the first to settle in the area. The first is Vega Sicilia. A reference not just in Spain but throughout the world, creator of wines like Vega Sicilia Único, Valbuena or Pintia. Pesquera, another historic winery, with its wonderful Pesquera Crianza and Reserva. D.O. Ribera del Duero has many other great wineries like Bodegas Aalto, Emilio Moro, Bodega Arzuaga or prestigious and well known Dominio de Pingus.