Ribera del Duero DO is located in the high altitude plain of northern Castilla y Leon, Spain. It stretches about 115km along “the banks of the river Duero” touching the provinces of Soria, Burgos, Segovia and Valladolid. It is bounded on the north by Arlanza comarca, south by the Province of Segovia on the east by the province of Valladolid and on the west by the Sierra de ls Domanda comarca and the province of Soria.
The region gained DO (Denominacion de Origen) status in 1982, the same year both Ribera del Duero’s and Spain’s most famous winery, Vega Sicilia, changed hands having been bought by the Alvarez family, and influential US critic Robert Parker Jnr praised Pesquera, a red wine made by Alejandro Fernandez. The Ribera del Duero region is known for red wines based on Tempranillo, a grape which produces wines with colour and tannin (high polyphenols) and low acidity. Arguably these inherent characteristics have been accentuated in the modern era by ‘Parkerisation’, although winemakers like Peter Sisseck of Pingus argue that careful extraction of tannin from ripe Tempranillo grapes is the best way to build texture (Evans, 2018).
Vineyard area: There are now over 300 wineries and 222,000 hectares (54,340 acres) of vines, but huge recent growth means that despite having some pre-phylloxera bush vines, two-thirds of the vines in Ribera del Duero have been planted since 1991 (Evans, 2018). Peter Sisseck’s Psi project is looking to preserve old bush vines by improved pruning and other management techniques (Evans, 2018).
Terroir: Ribera del Duero runs along the Duero river and measures 69 miles (111km) by 21.7 miles (35km) (Evans, 2018). There are 35 soil types (Evans, 2018). The region has a continental climate with temperatures that range from minus 20 degrees centigrade (minus 4 Fahrenheit) in winter to 42 degrees (106.7 Fahrenheit) or higher in summer, with the added risk of frosts late into June (Evans, 2018). Altitudes play a significant role because even the DO’s lowest vineyards are higher than in most of the rest of Spain’s wine-growing areas (Evans, 2018).
Soils: There are said to be 35 different soil types spread between land along river bank and the high plateau (Evans, 2018).
Vintages: 2017 Hit by April frost, small crop, potentially good quality (Evans, 2018). | 2014 A cool year, balanced wines (Evans, 2018). | 2010 Powerful wines of good quality (Evans, 2018). | 2009 Hot vintage (Evans, 2018). | 2003 Very hot vintage (Evans, 2018). | 2005 Some outstanding wines, with a rich, deep, firm profile (Evans, 2018). | 2004 Pure, fine, supple, elegant wines (Evans, 2018). | 2000 Wines which have have aged well (Evans, 2018).
Certified Biodynamic: Finca Torremilanos.
Certified organic: Adrada.
No certification: Aalto. | Alonso del Yerro. | Dehesa de los Canónigos. | Dominio de Pingus. | Dominio del Pidio. | Dominio de Atauta. | Dominio del Aguila. | Montecastro. | Quinta Milu. | Vega Sicilia. | Viña Mayor. | Viña Pedrosa. | Vintae.
Sarah Jane Evans MW, ‘Ribera and me: a complex relationship’, Decanter, March 2018, p.72-78.