Ribero Del Duero is one of five wine producing regions located within the area of Castilla y León on Spain’s northern plateau and can be found running alongside the Duero River. The region concentrates almost entirely on the making of red wines using the Tempranillo grape. Prize winning red wines from the region include Vega Sicilia and Tinto Pesquera. The only white grape grown here is the Albillo and most of the white wine produced from this grape is consumed locally.
The centre of this region is pinpointed by the town of Aranda de Duero and is mainly made up of flat rocky terrain. The most well known vineyards are located at the westernmost point surrounding Valladolid and Roa de Duero and this is where the regions regulatory council (Consejo Regulador) for the Designation of Origin (Denominación de Origen- DO) can be found.
History of the Ribera del Duero Region
The Ribera Del Duero region has been producing wine for hundreds of years and it is thought to have started way back in the twelfth century with Benedictine monks from Cluny, in France’s Burgundy region.
During the 1860’s in the west of Ribera Del Duero, the bodega Vega Sicilia was established and up until the 1970’s very little attention was paid to any other winery in the region. The majority of wine production around this period was simple rose wines made from the Garnacha grape in Ribera Del Duero’s eastern parts. All this changed when Alejandro Fernandez began making red wines using the Tempranillo grape at his Pesquera bodega. He produced wines which were more concentrated, fruity and full bodied and these were more or less the only red Spanish wines on the export markets. Pesquera became well appreciated as a winery by both Spain and many other countries and this caused wine making to expand considerably in the 1980’s and 1990’s with many new bodegas being created and developed.
Only in recent times have the large scale wine producers taken over from small scale family producers, the better known ones including Pesquera and Mauro. Its recognition as a quality producer of red wines is thanks to its Tinto Fino grape, equivalent to Rioja’s Tempranillo, which has adapted well to the climate extremes of the Duero valley which involve very hot summer days with cold nights. Such extremes have aided the production of top quality wines.
Geography of Ribera del Duero
Located on the elevated northern plateau of Spain the Ribera Del Duero region is spread over the southern plains of Burgos province and extends in a westward direction to Valladolid spilling over to parts of Soria and Segovia in the east and south of the area. Closely following the River Duero for around 115km in an upstream direction, the region is concentrated at younger expanses of the river passing through the regions of Toro and Rueda prior to reaching Portugal’s famous wine producing areas, Duoro and Porto, at which point the river flows into the Atlantic Ocean. The Ribera Del Duero has close to two hundred wineries covering an area of 20,000 hectares of vineyards, producing wines of all qualities.
Soils and Climate: As far as the soil is concerned, it’s a mix of sand consisting of silt and clay which alternates with layers of chalky limestone. With moderate to low rainfall (in the region of 450mm annually) the Ribera Del Duero is subject to an extremely changing climate which consists of dry summer month temperatures rising to 40 °C followed by severe winters which see a fall as far as minus 18 °C. Although each season has a clear variation in temperatures, the climate is Mediterranean and in the period of one year, the area can expect to enjoy more than 2400 hours of beautiful sunshine.
Grape Types: Tinto Fino, the local name for Tempranillo, accounts for the main production of wine in this region and it is a very well liked favourite in Northern Spain. In smaller quantities Garnacha, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec and Merlot are grown in order to be blended with the Fino, but it should be noted that the renowned Tinto Pesquera mentioned earlier grown by Alejandro Fernández in Pesquera de Duero is made from one hundred percent Tempranillo grapes.
Similar to Rioja, Ribero Del Duero wines are intense and produced as extremely long lived wines although, of course, their flavours are clearly distinctive from each other due to the differences in terrain. With several growers from other regions continuing to show a great deal of interest in the Ribero del Duero region, this is leading to the wines produced here becoming increasingly popular. The region continues to win many prestigious awards at international wine fairs acknowleding the high quality red wines of Ribera del Duero.
Ribera del Duero Wine Tours
The region lies 160km north of Madrid and 240km south of Bilbao. Whilst Valladolid is the largest city of the region most visitors drive here from Madrid or Bilbao (if they’ve come on the ferry from the UK). Specialist wine tours with a driver and guide can be arranged on request.