Winemaking for Spain’s most prestigious wine regions for red and white wines began almost 2,000 years ago. It’s a wonder anyone would have thought to plant grapes in these regions of extreme temperatures, blisteringly hot summers, bitterly cold winters, rocky terrain, and high altitudes. The flag of Castilla y León bears images of castles and lions – the coat of arms commissioned by leaders centuries ago. But the presence of the many castles scattered throughout the region and the symbolic watchful eye of the lion has persisted. This symbolism represents the name of an expansive region and a sense of purpose and prestige. Given this, it seems unlikely to be home to the most prestigious wine regions in Spain, but a river runs through it, and with that, the key to vibrant vineyards and the stunning wines that come from them. Ribera y Rueda were bestowed the Denominación de Origen (D.O.) status in the 1980’s – a prestigious designation, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Ribera wines underscore the purest expression of Tempranillo, Spain’s most well known grape; big, bold and textured, but with plenty of rich, old-world sensibility. The region is home to some of Spain’s most sought after and applauded wines. Riberas are crafted to age, developing complexity over time, yet balancing acidity and generous fruit, they’re unequivocally food-friendly wines to drink young. The spices, dark fruit and smoky flavors of Ribera enhance anything off the grill, roasted meats, and rich pastas. Ribera del Duero wines can best be compared to Cabernet Sauvignon from the Napa Valley thanks to those rich and bold flavors, but tend to be more refined and Old World in style, more balance and less overpowering oak.
Today, more than 300 wineries call Ribera del Duero home, including some of Spain’s most iconic names and because of that, the bar is high for wineries to create exceptional wines with equally exceptional value. The result, wines that can be enjoyed at home on the everyday table filled with rich dishes and staples like charcuterie and cheese. Perfect for fireside chats with the best of friends
The vineyards of Ribera del Duero stretch intermittently for over 70 miles along the River Duero. These sprawling lands feature a mix 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 — sometimes a 50-plus degree difference — create optimal ripening conditions for the Tempranillo grapes that define Ribera del Duero wines distinctive character.
Did You Know?
- There were only nine wineries and 15,000 acres of vineyards when Ribera del Duero achieved D.O. status in 1982.
- Ribera is now proud to host 270 wineries, with 55,000 acres of vineyards.
- Tempranillo is a thick-skinned black grape, ripening early to survive short growing seasons. It is capable of producing complex wines that develop over a long period of time.
- Wine must be 75 percent Tempranillo for it to be recognized by the D.O.
D.O. Ribera del Duero Classifications go like this:
Crianza: Aged a minimum of two years, one year in oak.
Reserva: Aged a minimum of three years, at least one year in oak and the remaining time in bottle.
Gran Reserva: Aged a minimum of five years, at least two years in oak and the remaining time in bottle.
Cosecha: This is a bit of a catch-all and can mean everything from the youngest wine to the longest-aged, most sophisticated wine as long as it comes from the Ribera del Duero and meets the minimum standards set by the appellation.