Spain | Ribera del Duero
The Ribera del Duero wine region is located in the Castilla y León area of North Central Spain and is one of several recognised wine-producing regions to be found along the course of the River Duero.
Before achieving its D.O. status in 1982, there were only 9 wineries in the region and growers sold grapes to co-ops with the wine then sold off in bulk. However, a small group of winemakers saw the potential for the area and so, determined to promote the quality of their wines and enforce regulatory standards, they applied for D.O. recognition. Today, the region is home to 270 wineries and some of Spain’s most sought after and lauded wines and, although it is a relatively young appellation, it is considered one of the world's most prestigious wine regions.
The vineyards of Ribera del Duero stretch intermittently for over 70 miles along the River Duero and are planted on a combination of different soils, exposures and elevations - some as high as a half-mile above sea level. The semi-arid terrain, ample amounts of sunlight and extreme temperature swings from day to night, create optimal ripening conditions for the Tempranillo grapes (also known as Tinta del País or Tinto Fino) that define the superb, complex red wines of Ribera del Duero.
Most of Ribera del Duero's wine production is red, with only a modest quantity of rosado produced. No white wines are allowed under the DO.
The same DO rules govern Ribera del Duero's barrel-aged styles as they do for Rioja: Crianza wines are aged for two years before release with at least one year in oak barrels; Reserva wines must be three years old with at least one year spent in oak and, finally, Gran Reserva wines must be five years old before going on sale, with at least two years spent in barrel. The young (joven) unoaked red wines, called Roble, tend to boast a moreish, vibrant, bramble fruit while the best oak-aged styles of Crianza, Reserva and Gran Reserva show intense, generous fruit, overlaid with notes of vanilla and sweet spice, and wrapped up in polished, elegant tannins.