In part 3 of Why go on a wine tour of Spain we will cover the famous wine growing appellation of Ribera del Duero. Please read on to find out why we feel this laid back and rather small wine-growing appellation just could be the best place to get to know all there is to know about the Tempranillo grape variety…
The D.O. Ribera del Duero
The D.O. Ribera del Duero is located in the province of Burgos, just 1.5 hours north of Madrid. The appellation was founded in 1982, thanks to the perseverance of the world-famous winery Vega-Sicilia, who vied for the establishment of this much-deserved Denominación de Orígen. Many consider Ribera del Duero to be one of the most awe-inspiring wine regions in all of Spain as it is full of history, art, tradition, award-winning wineries, delectable food and beautiful landscapes. Located at an elevation of around 2,400 feet and possessing temperatures of -4 to 100®F, Ribera del Duero is a land of stunning contrasts.
Although the history of winemaking in Ribera del Duero stretches back 2000 years to the time of the Romans, many feel the most important period of wine production occurred during the 12th century when the Cluny order of monks came to the region with the specific goal of making great wine.
The appellation, as we know it today, is located within the heart of Castilla-Leon and is around an hour away from the major Spanish cities of Burgos, Valladolid, Soria and Segovia. Currently there are about 50,000 acres planted with grape vines and about 230 wineries, of which about a third are open to the public. The epicenter of Ribera del Duero is the picturesque town of Peñafiel, which is home to a spectacular wine museum that is located inside a refurbished 14th century castle perched on top of the city.
The wines made in Ribera del Duero are considered to be some of the best produced in Spain due to the region’s unique terroir, strong diurnal temperature differences and because after years of experimenting with different grape varieties, the local winemakers now focus on making around 95% of their world-class wines from only one variety, the venerated Tempranillo grape. The sedimentary soil of Ribera del Duero has layers of silt, clay, sand, limestone and chalk, which together help to produce wines that have silky smooth tannins and are very well balanced.
During a wine tour of this region you will get to meet the people who make Ribera del Duero’s award-winning wines, visit their world-class wineries by car, bicycle or on horseback, savor the region’s famous comida casera (or delectable local fare)and soak up the history of the region by experiencing life the naturally tranquil Ribera del Duero way.