Article written by Wine Enthusiast
For many U.S. drinkers, Spanish wines are ripe for discovery. Consider the wines of Ribera del Duero y Rueda, a region located two hours north of Madrid. Crisp, citrusy Rueda Verdejo is Spain’s most popular white wine, and robust Ribera reds are a celebrated staple, complementing the regions’ traditional grilled fare and charcuterie. With remarkable range, authenticity and accessibility, Ribera y Rueda wines are this year’s breakout stars of Spanish wine.
A Sense of Place
Nestled in the high plains of Castilla y León in northern Spain, the regions of Ribera del Duero y Rueda have an unusual beauty. The climate may not be the most hospitable for humans, but indigenous grapes thrive in the harsh conditions, imprinting the regions’ distinctive character. Ribera del Duero’s Tempranillo grapes survive scorching summers and frigid winters to produce bold red wines with depth and structure. While in Rueda, the rocky soils nourish Verdejo grapes that produce herbaceous, aromatic whites.
Ancient traditions shape contemporary winemaking in Ribera y Rueda. The regions’ winemakers were sustainability-driven locavores long before those terms even existed. Today, winemakers on small family farms and larger local operations all make wines with generations-old respect and ritual. The proof is in the glass.
Food-friendly and approachable, wines from Ribera y Rueda may embody a singular sense of place, but their appeal knows no borders.
Tempranillo grapes give Ribera wines their rich, full-bodied taste and breadth to complement laidback lunches of burgers or formal dinners of fine steaks. Ribera wines naturally complement the signature roasted pork and lamb dishes of northern Spain, as well as aged Spanish cheeses. However, they also go beautifully with pizza, and anything from the grill.
Rueda wines can be crisp and refreshing or full-bodied and oaked, making them suited to summertime sipping or wintry holiday meals. Verdejo grapes are particularly well-matched to harder-to-pair Asian, Indian, sushi, vegan and rich or fried foods. You’ll find Rueda wines are remarkably versatile from fresh cheeses and salads to seafoods and spicy dishes.