The unparalleled quality of Ribera del Duero

The unparalleled quality of Ribera del Duero

Ribera del Duero, perhaps the area in Spain with the highest quality in wines, should be no stranger to most wine lovers. Ribera del Duero is synonymous with quality and for connoisseurs it may immediately bring Vega Sicilia or Pingus to mind, two of Spain's most prestigious wines.

This prominent region is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year! And therefore, The DO is handing out wine ridges! In this blog you can read all about Ribera del Duero, the top wines from this DO and how to have a chance to win a wine climate-controlled fridge from Gastro!

How it all began – Vega Sicilia and Pesquera

Ribera del Duero cannot be separated from its most famous bodega: Vega Sicilia. And this goes both ways actually. Spain's most legendary winery was founded by Don Eloy Lecanda in the year 1864, when the area around the River Duero was still an inhospitable plateau, inhabited mainly by flocks of sheep. Vega Sicilia quickly established a great reputation for its full-bodied, rich wines from Bordeaux varieties combined with the local tinto fino (tempranillo). A reputation that stands firm to this day. It was not until the 1970s that we saw a second bodega that began to distinguish itself from the rest. This winery - called Pesquera- was founded in 1972 by Alejandro Fernández. Fernández was a passionate winemaker who believed that Ribera del Duero was destined to become one of the world's best wine regions. He was a man with prevision, you could say with the knowledge of today.

The reputation and success of these two individuals and their powerhouses of red wines rapidly preceeded them, and from the 1980s onwards, more and more ambitious winemakers arrived, who had been educated elsewhere and who saw plenty of opportunities in this relatively unexplored region. Among that influx of talented young winemakers was the Dane Peter Sisseck, who was determined to make the best wine in the world in Ribera del Duero. With his first vintage, he immediately attracted the attention of the international wine press. Robert Parker noted in his assessment of Sisseck's 1995 vintage: “One of the greatest and most exciting wines I have ever tasted”. And the rest is history… By now, Sisseck's wine - and we are of course talking about Pingus - has reached cult status.

This capital injection, both in terms of technical insight and financial resources, ensured that the overall quality of the wines from all over the region improved enormously. The wines are even considered so good that a DO (denominación de origen) was established in 1982, including a Consejo Regulador, a regulatory body that monitors the quality of the wine from a specific region of origin. The quality wine region Ribera del Duero was born. That means, that this year is the 40th anniversary already!

Which factors determine the success of Ribera del Duero?

What Don Eloy Lecanda and later also Alejadro Fernández had spotted very well is that the area around the river Duero is extremely suitable for the production of quality wine, caused by a number of critical factors.

First of all, there is the harsh continental climate that cannot be compared with the friendly climate that we know from the Spanish Costas. The locals themselves describe it as “9 months of winter, 3 months of hell”. Everything in Ribera is intense. The number of sun hours is 2,400 per year. During the three summer months it is scorching hot during the day (hence "hell") without a drop of rain and in winter the mercury easily drops to -20 °C and even lower. Perhaps most important for the quality of Ribera wines is the temperature difference between day and night (diurnal range) during the growing season. Due to the location of the vineyards between 720 to 1,100 meters above sea level on the Spanish mountain plateau "Meseta Central", temperatures drop dramatically at night. Even in summer it can be surprisingly cold at night! Grapes, however, love that temperature difference between day and night. During the warm days, the grapes receive plenty of sun and heat to ripen perfectly. Then, at night, the photosynthesis that ensures that ripening, is abruptly interrupted, causing the grapes to go into a state of shock, so to speak, and thus to settle down and - very important! - hold their acids well. You can taste the result of this in the wine. Ribera del Duero wines are full, ripe and robust and generally have a substantial alcohol percentage, but also always have a pleasant amount of acidity that ensures finesse and a good balance. The river Duero, namesake of the DO, of course also has an important impact on the wine region. The proximity to the river moderates the temperature in the surrounding vineyards and protects the canes against night frost in the spring and autumn. The river also creates stone-rich deposits. In the upper vineyards, the soil mainly consists of limestone and clay.

Another important point for the quality of Ribera del Duero is the high percentage of old bush vines from the tinto fino grape (also called tinta del país). Some even date from the pre-phylloxera era! Tino fino is a clone, a local variety of the tempranillo grape. The power of old vines lies in the fact that they are so deeply rooted that they can survive, even in extreme drought. And although the yield of old vines is much lower than that of younger ones - both in the number of bunches and the size of the grapes - the concentration and power of the wine they yield is unparalleled.

The different classifications: what do they actually mean?

Although a small proportion of rosé and white is also produced in Ribera del Duero, we limit ourselves here to the red wines. By law, these must consist of 75% tino fino, possibly supplemented with varieties such as cabernet sauvignon, merlot, malbec and garnacha tinta. As in the rest of Spain, in Ribera del Duero a distinction is made between the classifications cosecha, crianza, reserva and gran reserva to indicate the wood aging of the wine. Joven wines have had no oak maturation, roble wines are matured only 3 months on oak, and crianza's have matured for at least two years, of which at least one year in oak. Both styles deliver accessible wines, full of red and black fruit and a subtle touch of vanilla. Reservas mature for at least three years, of which at least one in oak. Gran Reservas are out-of-class wines that only appear in peak years and are legally held back for the longest time before they appear on the market: a total of five years of which at least two in oak barrels. These are particularly layered and complex wines whose profile and build resemble the old tino fino vines from which they originate: knotty, powerful, earthy with intensely dark notes of chocolate, tobacco and leather.

To make things even more complicated, there are also producers who do not observe these fixed qualifications at all and release their wine whenever they themselves deem it ready. A typical example is the Vega Sicilia "Unico" 1968 which was only released at the same time as the 1982 vintage: in 1991!

Has this blog sparked an interest in the wines from this area? Check our Ribera del Duero wines here

Ribera del Duero at Best of Wines

One of our latest discoveries is Bodegas Rudeles: a family winery from the eastern part of the region. The vines here enjoy the perfect ripening conditions as the vineyards are planted on hillsides at a level of 900 meter above sea level. Cerro el Cuberillo is their absolute showpiece and is only released in exceptional years. This wine offers a lot to discover: a rich bouquet with black currants, black berries, vanilla, and fresh herbs. The tannin structure and the fresh acidity ensures the excellent ageing potential. We have multiple vintages for you in our cellar.

Another winery that produces stunning wines is Bodegas Hacienda. The wines from Hacienda are highly sought-after, with ‘Monasterio Reserve Especial’ in particular. The grapes grow 100% organic, and the fermentation starts with only indigenous yeast. The blend consists of mainly Tempranillo with some Cabernet Sauvignon. The maturation in French oak barrels takes up to 20 months and gives the wine a full-bodied character. The Reserve Especial is eager and complex, with lots of black fruit, ripe tannins and well-integrated wood. An absolute recommendation for Ribera fans!

Of course we have the cult wines of Vega Sicilia and Dominio de Pingus too. We have different vintages from all Vega Sicilia cuvées in stock, ranging from 1985 to 2020. In addition to Flor de Pingus, Pingus' second wine, we also offer the friendly priced PSI. Has this blog sparked an interest in the wines from this area? Check our Ribera del Duero wines here

Winespect. - J. Suckling 98
Pingus
Pingus - Pingus 2017

Pingus

2017
€ 899,00 (ex Vat) € 1.087,79 (in Vat) more info
BOW 8
Bodegas Roda
Bodegas Roda - Roda Reserva 2016

Roda Reserva

2016
€ 25,95 (ex Vat) € 31,40 (in Vat) more info
BOW 8.5
Rudeles
Rudeles - Cerro el Cuberillo 2015

Cerro el Cuberillo

2015
€ 49,00 (ex Vat) € 59,29 (in Vat) more info
Winespect. - J. Suckling 96
Pingus
Pingus - Flor de Pingus 2016

Flor de Pingus

2016
€ 91,50 (ex Vat) € 110,72 (in Vat) more info
Parker 95
Vega Sicilia
Vega Sicilia - Unico 2008

Unico

2008
€ 319,00 (ex Vat) € 385,99 (in Vat) more info
Winespect. - J. Suckling 96
Alion Bodegas
Alion Bodegas - Alion  2018

Alion

2018
(Double Magnum)
€ 449,00 (ex Vat) € 543,29 (in Vat) more info
Winespect. - J. Suckling 96
Bodegas Roda
Bodegas Roda - Cirsion 2018

Cirsion

2018
€ 179,00 (ex Vat) € 216,59 (in Vat) more info
Parker 96
Bodegas Hacienda
Bodegas Hacienda - Monasterio Reserva Especial 2015

Monasterio Reserva Especial

2015
€ 69,00 (ex Vat) € 83,49 (in Vat) more info
Winespect. - J. Suckling 92 sale
Bodegas Felix Callejo
Bodegas Felix Callejo - Selección de Viñedos de la Familia 2010

Selección de Viñedos de la Familia

2010
€ 58,95 € 44,95 (ex Vat) € 54,39 (in Vat) more info
Parker 96
Vega Sicilia
Vega Sicilia - Valbuena   2017

Valbuena

2017
€ 129,50 (ex Vat) € 156,70 (in Vat) more info
Parker 92
Telmo Rodriguez
Telmo Rodriguez - Matallana 2006

Matallana

2006
€ 61,95 (ex Vat) € 74,96 (in Vat) more info
BOW 8.5
Bodegas Roda
Bodegas Roda - Mixed Case of 6 2011-2015 2015

Mixed Case of 6 2011-2015

2015
(Half Liter)
€ 173,95 (ex Vat) € 210,48 (in Vat) more info
BOW 8.5
Rudeles
Rudeles - Cerro el Cuberillo Collection 2014

Cerro el Cuberillo Collection

2014
€ 259,00 (ex Vat) € 313,39 (in Vat) more info
Winespect. - J. Suckling 96
Alion Bodegas
Alion Bodegas - Alion   2018

Alion

2018
(Magnum)
€ 189,00 (ex Vat) € 228,69 (in Vat) more info
Parker 94
Alion Bodegas
Alion Bodegas - Alion 2011

Alion

2011
€ 69,00 (ex Vat) € 83,49 (in Vat) more info
Parker 93
Pago de Carraovejas
Pago de Carraovejas - Cuesta de Las Liebres 2014

Cuesta de Las Liebres

2014
€ 139,00 (ex Vat) € 168,19 (in Vat) more info
Winespect. - J. Suckling 94
Rudeles
Rudeles - Cerro el Cuberillo 2014

Cerro el Cuberillo

2014
€ 49,00 (ex Vat) € 59,29 (in Vat) more info
Parker 94
Bodegas Hacienda
Bodegas Hacienda - Monasterio 2019

Monasterio

2019
€ 29,50 (ex Vat) € 35,70 (in Vat) more info
Winespect. - J. Suckling 98
Vega Sicilia
Vega Sicilia - Reserva Especiale release 2021 2021

Reserva Especiale release 2021

2021
€ 1.195,00 (ex Vat) € 1.445,95 (in Vat) more info
Winespect. - J. Suckling 95
Pingus
Pingus - PSI 2019

PSI

2019
€ 29,95 (ex Vat) € 36,24 (in Vat) more info
Winespect. - J. Suckling 94
Bodegas Roda
Bodegas Roda - Corimbo 2015

Corimbo

2015
€ 20,95 (ex Vat) € 25,35 (in Vat) more info
Winespect. - J. Suckling 96
Vega Sicilia
Vega Sicilia - Valbuena 2013

Valbuena

2013
€ 129,50 (ex Vat) € 156,70 (in Vat) more info
Parker 96
Vega Sicilia
Vega Sicilia - Valbuena   2017

Valbuena

2017
(Magnum)
€ 299,00 (ex Vat) € 361,79 (in Vat) more info
Winespect. - J. Suckling 95
Bodegas Roda
Bodegas Roda - Roda I Reserva 2016

Roda I Reserva

2016
€ 40,95 (ex Vat) € 49,55 (in Vat) more info

Order Ribera del Duero and win a wine fridge!

Every order that includes two or more wines from Ribera del Duero, join a prize draw, in which we are permitted to give away one Gastro wine fridge. This fridge can accommodate 28 bottles and has one temperature zone. This promotion lasts two months and will end on June 18, 2022.

This blog is written in collaboration with the DO Ribera del Duero.
For more information, see www.riberadeldeuro.es/nl

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