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Ribera del Duero, a dream valley

30/11/2022 Production area

Although relatively young, the D.O. Ribera del Duero has made a name for itself in its 40-year history. This denomination lies in the Duero river basin (Castilla y León) and thanks to the complexity of the terroir, the severity of the climate and an altitude that can exceed 1,000 metres above sea level, it produces extraordinary quality grapes and unique wines that are known around the world. The local expertise are constantly evolving to continue producing first-class wines without losing any of their personality.

Four provinces, one great Denomination of Origin

Bearing in mind that every D.O. relates to a specific area, where wine is made with a certain type of soil and environmental conditions and using specific working practices, the D.O. Ribera del Duero is marked by the influence of the Duero River. This basin, where the provinces of Burgos, Segovia, Soria and Valladolid (Castilla y León) meet, is 115 kilometres long and 35 kilometres wide. It is a valley of sedimentary origin with different geological layers formed by fluvial sedimentary materials. And it is this variety of different substances that create the complexity of the Ribera. A wealth of geological formations, composed mainly of sandy conglomerates that barely retain water and offer maturity and mellowness, and abundant in calcareous salts that provide elegance, character and structure. All this creates unique qualities that make many of its wines some of the very, very best.

A question of altitude

If the D.O. Ribera del Duero stands out for one thing, it is because it is one of the regions where the vineyards lie at the most extreme altitudes. Vines that almost touch the sky, between 720 and 1,100 metres above sea level, and where the climate is characterised by its severity. Impressive temperature variations between day and night and prolonged droughts, which, when handled by someone experienced, create a unique and exceptional fruit.

A variety that everyone loves

Undoubtedly, Tempranillo, or as it is called here Tinto Fino or Tinta del País, has always been the D.O. Ribera del Duero’s star variety. It is responsible for the particular characteristics of this region’s wines. Today it occupies no less than 97% of the Ribera’s vineyards. However, it is not the only one. Other varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec and Garnacha Tinta are grown to a lesser extent. As for white varieties, although less well known, Albillo Mayor is the queen.

Time brings rewards

There are several ways to classify a wine, by grape, by cultivation method (organic, biodynamic, etc.) or by denomination of origin. When it comes to the D.O. Ribera del Duero, the wines are also classified according to their time in the barrel and bottle before leaving the winery.

- Young wines are those not aged in oak barrels. These are wines in which the primary aromas of fruit play a major role, with tannins and balanced acidity. They are perfect for drinking with friends, with tapas and food for entertaining.

- Oaked wines are those subtly aged in oak. That is, for a minimum of 3 months. And just like young wines, they are great with tapas.

- Crianza wines spend 24 months in oak barrels and bottles, with a minimum of 12 months of that time in barrels. These are well-structured wines with hints of wild fruit, spices and minerals. They are characterised by their versatility and are perfect for pairing with all types of meats and fatty fish. For white and rosé wines, the minimum barrel time is 6 months and a total of 18 months between wood and bottle.

- Reserva wines are aged for 36 months between barrel and bottle and the minimum barrel time is 12 months. These are more complex wines with ripe fruit, balsamic and mineral aromas and a meaty and powerful mouthfeel. A wine designed for large gourmet meals. For whites and rosés, the prescribed aging time is 24 months with a minimum of 6 in barrels.

- Gran Reserva wines are aged for 60 months, a minimum of 24 months of which are spent in oak barrels. A very special wine that, thanks to its long aging, is powerful, elegant, ample and full-bodied. Due to its complexity, it should be paired with succulent dishes that can withstand this level of structure. For whites and rosés, this time is 48 months, a minimum of 6 months of which are spent in oak barrels.

All these quality standards are responsible for guaranteeing the authenticity of a D.O. Ribera del Duero wine. Unique wines that combine tradition with the avant-garde and have made this Spanish wine region one of the most prestigious in the world.