The Ribera del Duero D.O.C. (Denominación de Origen Calificada) is located the centre of Spain in the province of Castilla Y Leon, about 100km North of Madrid.
It is one of Spain’s main wine regions, but the total production area is only a third of that of Rioja.
WHAT ARE THE MAIN GRAPE VARIETIES OF Ribera del duero?
Red wine is king in Ribera del Duero, and in fact there is only 1 white grape planted: ALBILLO.
When you think Ribera del Duero, you must think Tempranillo. The grape accounts for over 75% of the production in the region. The wines must include at least 75% Tempranillo according to the DOC.
However, Tempranillo is known locally either as Tinto Fino or Tinto del Pais.
HISTORY AND GEOGRAPHY OF RIBERA DEL DUERO
As with most of European wine regions, the heritage of winemaking dates from Roman times.
Despite its long history of winemaking, in was only in 1982, that Ribera del Duero acquired its DOC status.
In terms of geography, when you think of the region, there are two things to remember.
1) A continental climate with hot dry summers and cold winters. The day/ night temperature variations is very important, which helps develop the wines aromas and flavours.
2) Gentle rolling plains and around 800m. This helps freshen the wines with good acidity.
WHAT ARE THE WINES LIKE?
If you know a little bit about Rioja, you will be familiar with their classification of wines. It goes from Tinto Joven to Gran reserva. Ribera del Duero is pretty much the same.
TINTO JOVEN: Literally translated as Young Red, these wines do not have to be oaked. If they are, however, they must not be for more than 12 months.
These wines have rich aromas of red and dark fruit the nose (blackberry, raspberry,…). They are full-bodied and usually high in tannins, but also have plenty of acidity. The result is a vibrant and rich wine.
CRIANZA: These wine must have been aged at least 12 months in oak barrels.
These wines tend to have an intense dark fruit nose dominating the wine, with aromas coming from the oak. Think of spice notes such as vanilla, liquorice and clove. The tannins here are more integrated and smoother.
RESERVA: These wines are aged for a minimum of 36 months. Of which at least 12 months has to be in barrel.
The aromas of these wines will be much more complex. A mix of ripe dark fruit combined with spices such as cinnamon, clove as well as animal notes such as leather and musks.
On the palate, the wines are much smoother, with velvety tannins and length on the palate.
GRAN RESERVA: These wines are aged for 60 months, of which at least 24 months in barrel.
This extra ageing brings the wine a more complex nose and a more mellow palate.
But make no mistake, the wines are still solid, and have great freshness.
So when if you were to summarise Ribera del Duero, you need to think of solid, tannic wines with good acidity.
WHAT TASTES SIMILAR?
If you like wines from Ribera del Duero, I’m guessing you’re already familiar with Rioja and Bordeaux, which both produce wines in a similar style.
You could also go for some Super Tuscan wines, which will also have some great freshness and power.
WHAT FOOD TO PAIR WITH Ribera del duero wines?
These wines are made to go with food.
In Castilla Y Leon, the star of the show is meat, which comes as no surprise when you taste these wines.
The specialities of the region include: morcilla (black pudding), roasted veal and suckling pig. Chorizo of course is also commonly used in many dishes.
FIVE TO TRY:
- Pago de los capellanes, tinto crianza, Ribera del duero
- Pascual Winery, buro Reserva, Ribera del duero
- Cillar de Silos, Flor de Silos, Ribera del duero
- La Horra, Corimbo I, Ribera del duero
- Alfredo Maestro, Vina Almate, Ribera del duero