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Wines from Ribera del Duero

From the name "The Golden Bank", the Ribera del Duero appellation, its destiny is closely linked to that of the river Duero, which it runs along for more than 100 kilometres. The latter flows from the north of Spain into the Atlantic Ocean in Portugal. The vineyards of Ribera del Duero are located in the region of Castilla y León, north of Madrid. The Ribera del Duero is, along with its neighbour Rioja, and Priorat, one of Spain's flagship appellations, still little known but with phenomenal potential.

4 Product(s)

4 Product(s)

Already in the 12th century, the monks of Cluny (Burgundy) exploited this land destined for vines. Before them, the wine-growing exploitation by the Catholic locals already existed, sometimes prevented by the Muslim Moors who had occupied the region since the 8th century. In 1864, a local nobleman, Don Eloy Lecanda y Chaves, inherited a few plots of land, all of them high up, overlooking the famous river Duero. He noticed that the conditions of freshness were similar to those of the Médoc and planted Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Malbec, in order to try a blend with the local grape variety, Tempranillo. The result is interesting, but will not go beyond a small circle. Rioja remained Spain's most renowned wine until 1970, when Alejandro Fernandez bought the Pesquera estate and made it a world-renowned wine. In 1982, the Alvarez family, entrepreneurs, acquired the already famous Bodega Vega Sicilia and took it to new heights. The appellation DO (Denominacion de Origen) dates from that year. The critics at the end of the century were ecstatic, especially those of Robert Parker, who particularly appreciated its dense, woody, powerful side.

The climate is what makes the strength of the Ribera del Duero appellation. At such an altitude (between 700 and 850 metres), the difference between night temperatures (below 12°C) and day temperatures (over 40°C) in summer is impressive. This great difference (and a low rainfall) allows the grapes to develop a great sweetness while maintaining an ideal acidity level. This combination is the key to the success of a great wine with long ageing potential.

The terroir is of the marly limestone type, containing iron and clay. The grape variety is of course the famous Tempranillo, nicknamed for the Ribera del Duero, Tinto Fino or Tinto del Pais, to distinguish it from Tempranillo de la Rioja. They are sometimes blended with the following grape varieties (in very small quantities): Merlot, Cabernet, Grenache, Malbec). The Bodega Pesquera only makes single grape varieties. As for the other bodegas, they can only obtain the DO of Ribera del Duero if Tempranillo is 75% present.

The maturation periods are generally very long. Some wines, the Crianza (12 months in oak barrels), the Reserva (36 months) and the Gran Reserva (60 months, of which 24 in oak barrels) develop intense dark colours, aromas of toast, candied fruit and leather.

Still relatively discreet from an international point of view, the Ribera del Duero appellation has in recent years begun a shift towards greater authenticity. The winemakers of the various Bodegas are turning towards more quality and a demanding dynamic, breaking with comfortable habits. Today, 333 wines have been rated 4.5/5 by the Vivino application, far exceeding the ratings received by Rioja. The wines come out more fleshy, but more balanced. Their length is constant, the body remains dense, with severe and robust tannins, becoming rounder with age. According to critics, the Ribera del Duero appellation is only in its infancy, just emerging from its adolescence, and will still be much talked about, as well as its terroir.