Ribera Del Duero

Ribera del Duero lies within Castilla y León in North Central Spain. Within its borders lie 4 distinct municipalities, including Burgos, Soria, Segovia and Valladolid. This wine-region is located on the elevated northern plateau of the Iberian Peninsula at 800 meters (2800ft) above sea level. Ribera del Duero means "bank of the Duero", and the river indeed divides the region. It also provides the local vineyards with a much-needed water supply. The river also provides neighboring Portugal with it's premier wine region as it changes its name to Douro and flows through the eponymous valley, the home of Port and Portugal's best red table wines.

The terroir here is relatively diverse, more diverse than that of Rioja. Soil types include both chalk and clay, along with intermittent layers of silt and limestone. All of which aid in producing very fine and soft mineral flavors detectable in most wines from Ribera.

Ribera del Duero was not awarded DO status until 1982. This is despite a long history of winemaking, centered on the leading local producer, Bodegas Vega Sicilia. Today, Ribera del Duero is almost entirely devoted to red wine. Tempranillo is the most widely planted grape variety, known locally either as Tinto Fino or Tinta del Pais. It produces wines which are deeply colored, with a firm tannin structure and complex aromas of dark fruit. Most of the top examples age gracefully for years.

According to DO regulations, Tempranillo must make up a minimum of 75 percent of all vinos tintos (red wines). The balance is usually made up mostly of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Malbec. These are all varieties that were introduced by Vega Sicilia more than a century ago. Up to five percent of Albillo or Garnacha is also permitted. Garnacha is used for most rosé wines. Albillo is the only white grape with vines planted in Ribera del Duero. It produces wines for local consumption that don't qualify for the Ribera del Duero DO title. It can also be used in tiny quantities as a softener for heavy reds.

The aging requirements used for Ribera del Duero match those of the Rioja denomination. Crianza red wines must be matured for at least two years, with 12 months in oak. Reserva wines are aged for at least three years, with one in oak. Gran Reserva wines must be aged for five years before release. two of which must be spent in oak.

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