Spain | Duero River Valley
The Duero River Valley wine region is located in North Central Spain and encompasses the wine production area of Castilla y León. Most of the regions greatest wines are from vineyards based around the River Duero. Indeed, Spain’s most famed winery, Vega Sicilia, anchors the DO known as Ribera del Duero (meaning, the “banks of the River Duero”).
The Duero River travels 460 miles from high in the Sistema Ibérico and forms part of the border between Spain and Portugal. It empties into the Atlantic ocean at Oporto, a town in Portugal that gives its name to a famous Portuguese fortified wine…. Port!
The table wines grown along the banks of the Duero River can be nearly as intense as Port, but are far more practical as drinking red wines. Roasted spring lamb on a BBQ of old-vine cuttings is fantastic here, and the cold Atlantic seems far away in both climate and cuisine. Though many of the vineyards have only a gentle, round contour, the viticulture here is at high altitude: days are warm and can get hot, but nights are cold thus slowing down the ripening period.
Consequently, the wines become rich and ripe, the less expensive ones destined for immediate, delicious drinking, whilst the top wines (Vega Sicilia, Pingus, Pesquera and many others) can last for decades.
The region’s success has seen vineyards expand, and now names such as Sardón del Duero, Arribes, Arlanza, Cigales and other satellite regions are garnering well-deserved attention. In the Cigales DO Rosé wine production has been the mainstay, however, the Tempranillo grape is having a greater impact on their reds now it would seem.
The Tempranillo grape performs extremely well in the DO wine region of Toro too, making powerful, even massive wines. On the other side of the Duero River, the Rueda DO has claimed its own international spotlight with the success of the white Verdejo grape. Here it is likened to (and occasionally blended with) Sauvignon Blanc; however, it posses its own unique citrus aromas and pear texture and flavours.