Located in the heart of Spain in the ancient realm of Castile and León, Ribera del Duero has been a center of wine production for thousands of years. Today, Ribera del Duero remains one of the most important wine regions in Spain, as it is the spiritual home of Tempranillo, Spain’s most venerable red grape variety. Here the iconic Tempranillo, also known locally as Tinto Fino and Tinta del País, reaches its pinnacle and demonstrates to the world its inherent virtue.
Ribera del Duero stretches out along the Duero River, Spain’s most beloved waterway, and occupies the hills and high meseta to the northeast of the city of Valladolid. Not surprisingly, the region draws its name from the venerable Duero that plays an important role in the region’s terroir. It seems that the soil of Ribera del Duero bears more than a passing resemblance to that of France’s Burgundy, with a wide range of chalk, clay, marl and gravel, combined together in varying degrees of prominence. However, whereas Burgundy’s soil complexity results from plate tectonics, the soil in Ribera del Duero results from the Duero’s erosion through the sedimentary layers of the Castilian meseta. The Duero River may likely play a role as well in moderating the rather harsh continental climate of the region, an area known for its dry, hot summers and cold winters. Add altitude (2,500-3,300 feet) and the intense luminosity of the Spanish meseta to the region’s exemplary terroir, and it becomes apparent that Ribera del Duero possesses all the features it needs to showcase the many attributes of Spain’s quintessential grape variety.
Given Ribera del Duero’s terroir and climate as well as the extreme variation that exists between day and night time temperatures at high altitudes, the grapes of this favored appellation develop strong, concentrated phenolic structures, which happily for the consumer translate into deep, rich flavors. Furthermore, the climate and high altitude also lend themselves to providing the wines of Ribera del Duero with a balanced, natural acidity on which to gain complexity and stake a long and illustrious life.
Although Tempranillo provides heart and soul to nearly all the wines of Ribera del Duero, the Denominacion de Origen (DO) does permit small quantities of other grape varieties to appear in the appellation’s red wines, most notably Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec, and Grenache. There is, however, no requirement that Ribera del Duero contain any grape other than Tempranillo, and in the case of Montecastro’s Ribera del Duero, 100 % Tempranillo is relied on to work the magic.