Characteristics of the Ribera del Duero Wine
Characteristics of the Ribera del Duero wine
In this article, we’ll talk about the Ribera del Duero wine-growing region and the excellent wine that is produced here. We will talk about the grape variety, the soil, the climate and other factors that influence the taste of Ribera del Duero wine.
Highlights of the Ribera del Duero region
While in the wine country of Ribera, you will find the best places to visit and wines to taste. So much attention is paid to the Ribera del Duero because it is one of the best wine regions in Spain. It’s considered second only to Rioja, and it’s an amazing piece of country that not everyone is familiar with. The region is primarily known for its red wines, which are traditionally served with the tremendous succulent roast meats for which the area is also renowned.
The red wine of Ribera del Duero is considered one of the oldest in Spain. The Phoenicians brought wine to the region over 1,000 years ago. Later, the imperial empire, recognising the region’s favourable conditions for winemaking, established vineyards here to provide wine for its troops.
After the Romans, winemaking in Ribera was taken over by the Catholic Church. This explains why several important wineries in Ribera are located in monasteries and churches. It was from the 12th century that some monks made these wines in Valbuena del Duero. In the 12th and 13th centuries, the first underground cave where wine was made appears. In 1295, the harvest of these wines was regulated, and from the 15th century onwards, quality and production controls were implemented.
Although winemaking has been taking place in this region for thousands of years, it was only recently given its own name. After several of the region’s wineries shocked the industry with their excellent wines, in 1975, the region was named Ribera del Duero, and the brand began to gain international recognition.
A small group of local grape growers saw the area’s potential and applied for D.O. status. Before achieving D.O. status in 1982, producers sold grapes to cooperatives, and wine was sold in bulk. Ribera del Duero remains a relatively young area with such prestige in the wine world.
D.O Ribera del Duero is considered one of the best in the world today, thanks to the characteristics of its grapes and vineyards. The lands united under the Denomination of Origin of the Ribera del Duero are located on the northern plateau of Spain and at the confluence of the four provinces combined in the autonomous community of Castile and León: Burgos, Segovia, Soria, and Valladolid.
The River Duero is the axis that connects more than 100 towns, stretching along a wine-growing strip that is some 115 kilometres long and 35 wide. The wines of the Ribera del Duero are known for their robust, high-quality red wines and are some of Spain’s most famous wines.
Climate and soil
The specific climatic conditions characteristic of Ribera del Duero viticulture has a major impact on the entire vegetative cycle of the vine, playing a fundamental role in plant development and grape ripening. To a large extent, the quality of the resulting beverages depends on these special conditions.
The Ribera del Duero wine region is located in Castile León (old Castile). The climate of the Ribera del Duero region is generally characterised by a moderate to low rainfall (400-600 mm per year on average), which, together with the dry summers and long, harsh winters and extreme temperature variations throughout the year, is characterised by a Mediterranean type of climate, the main feature of which is continentality.
2 main factors explain why Ribera del Duero produces such fantastic red wines.
- Soil structure.
The Ribera del Duero is located within the sizeable northern Meseta of the Iberian Peninsula, consisting of a large ancient basement, packed and partly covered by Tertiary sediments. Most of the volume of these deposits consists of more or less lenticular layers of silty or clayey sand, and alternating layers of both limestone and marl and even calcareous shrinkage are notable features.
The river basin, formed in the Miocene, consists of gentle horizontal levels bounded by differential erosion and today has been transformed into a peneplain. The topography of the zone varies between interfluves with peaks of 911 metres and valleys of 750 to 850 metres in height.
Recent analyses have revealed a soil ideally suited to red wine cultivation: the bedrock is similar to that found in the best areas of the Priory or the western port valley of Duoro. Above the bedrock lies a carbonate subsoil rich in gypsum, while active chalk is present at high levels.
- Elevation above sea level.
Vineyards occupy both sides of the River Duero. The vines are planted at an altitude of between 750 and 850 metres. At this altitude, summer temperatures reach 40°C (104°F) during the day but can drop sharply by 25°C or more at night. Such drastic changes in temperature are the best thing that can happen to local grapes. The plants “sleep at night” when the temperature drops. At night, the plants do not consume nutrients from the soil. But when daylight comes, these nutrients remain intact, and the plants pass them on to the grapes.
Vineyards of Ribera del Duero
The vineyards of the Ribera del Duero stretch along the River Duero for more than 112 km (70 miles). This sprawling land is characterised by a combination of different soils, exposures and altitudes – some of them up to half a mile above sea level. Tempranillo is a source of great pride for the region. Known locally as ‘Tinto Fino’ to distinguish it from other nearby Tempranillo production areas, it accounts for 95% of all grapes grown in D.O.
Old Tempranillo vines are a trademark of Ribera. Vines 25 years old and over account for approximately 35% of all vines planted; this means that a significant percentage of the vines have sufficiently deep and nutritious roots to survive in a harsh climate and produce uniform yields with minimal hassle compared to younger vines.
Due to the fact that the fruit tends to be smaller in size, older vines have a reputation for producing more structured and balanced wines. Average yields of around 1.6 tons per acre produce a rich, complex red wine with notes of red berries, warm spice, and tobacco leaves.
D.O. winemakers. Ribera del Duero combine traditional experience with new techniques to define their individual style and produce world-class red wines that rival any other renowned region in Spain and beyond.
Ribera del Duero wines
Thanks to the soil and climate characteristics, the wines from Ribera del Duero have a bold and vibrant character. Almost all of the wine produced in the region is red, although rosé and even small quantities of white wine are also produced, which was not allowed in the past.
Taste and flavour of Ribera del Duero
Ribera wines display the purest expression of Tempranillo, Spain’s most famous grape; big, bold and textured, but with plenty of rich, vintage sensuality. The region is home to some of Spain’s most sought-after and best-loved wines.
The wines of Ribera del Duero are divided as follows:
– Reds, ranging from young, highly fruity and well flavoured to elegant aged wines (Crianza, Reservas and Grandes Reservas) that stand out for their aromatic complexity as well as strength and balance on the palate.
– Roses are fruity and refreshing.
– The whites are fresh young wines, fruity and with good acidity, which yield more complex aromas when aged in barrels and bottles.
A minimum of 75% of Tempranillo is used to make wines, and together with the Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Malbec must be at least 95%. Up to 5%, Garnacha Tinta and Albillo, may be used to make these wines.
Ribera del Duero wines are best compared with Cabernet Sauvignon from the Napa Valley due to their rich and bold flavour, but they tend to be more refined, Old World style, more balanced and less oaky.
Riberas are made to age, developing complexity over time, but balancing the fruit’s acidity and generosity, they can be drunk young.
The spices, dark fruit, and smoky flavours of Riberas enhance the flavour of any grilled dish, roast meats and rich pasta.