This region approximately 175 kms north and east of Madrid, has for centuries been producing remarkable red wines, using tempranilo, cabernet sauvignon, merlot, malbec, and grenache.
The climate is continental with warm to hot and very dry summers, and cold winters. Growers are allowed to irrigate but only judiciously.
Ribera del Duero’s altitude of 760 – 850 metres above sea level mitigates the scorching heat during the growing season.
Tempranillo is main grape variety aka tinto fino, which has adapted well to short growing seasons.
It is a grape variety planted throughout Spain, and yields dark red, hinting to violet-coloured cherry and plum smelling wines with good acidity and average alcohol of 13 to 14 .5 ABV.
The only white grape variety planted in the region is albillo, and which yields soft, aromatic, medium-bodied wines.
By law, all red Ribera del Duero red wines must contain a minimum of 75 per cent tempranillo. No more than 5 per cent of the wine may be grenache or albillo.
Red wines may be labelled young with no barrel aging up to 12 months; crianza with a minimum of 12 months of barrel aging plus an appropriate bottle aging decided by the winemaker; reserva must be barrel aged for a minimum of 12 months, and 24 months in the bottle; gran reserva requires five years of barrel aging plus two years in the bottle.
Some very intense and flavourful rose wines are also produced.
Vega Sicilia winery is known for its intense and robust wines the world over, but there are many small, family-owned and operated wineries that have recently started, and produce very respectable and much less costly wines.
Recently, several wineries presented their wines to enthusiastic wine writers and agents in Toronto.
The following wines stood out:
A + M, 2006, Asenjo y Manso 93
Diodoro Antor, 2005, Bodegas Pascual 93
Buro de Penalosa, 2009, Bodegas Pascual 90
Buro Seleccion, 2010, Bodegas Pascual 91
Tamiz, 2011, Bodegas Reyes 90
Teofilo Reyes, 2009, Bodegas Reyes 93
Crianza, 2009, Lagar de Isilla 94
Valduero Reserva, 2007, Bodegas Valduero 90
Reserva Premium 6 Anos, 2007, Bodegas Valduero 91
Crianza, 2009, Bodegas Valduero 90
Una Cepa, 2009, Bodegas Valduero 92
El Nogal, 2009, Pago de los Capellanos 92
Reserva, 2009, pago de los Capellanos 90
Barrica, 2011, Bodegas Martin Berdugo 90
Crianza, 2010, Bodegas Martin Berdugo 92
Don Miguel Comenge, 209, Bodegas Comenge 93
Biberius, 2012, Bodegas Comenge 91
Mirat reserva, 2004, Bodegas Valdevinas 91
Tinar de Krat Crianza, 2004, Bodegas Valdevinas 92
Senorio de Los Baldios Tinto Crianza, 2011, Bodegas y Vinedos Garcia de Aranda 92
PG Pedro garcia, 2009, Bodegas y Vinedos Garcia de Aranda
Vitulia Roble, 2010, Bodegas Vitulia 90
Vitulia Crianza, 2009, Bodegas Vitulia 92
Mario VC, 2010, Vega Clara 92
10 Almendros 2010, Vega Clara 90