Grape Expectations: Ribera del Duero

I’m sure you are all know Rioja rather well, but have you heard of Ribera del Duero? Named for the river Duero – which changes its name to Douro as it flows from Spain into Portugal – this is a region that deserves as much attention for its wines as its more famous cousin.

Like Rioja, Ribera del Duero is primarily known for its red wines, made using the variety Tempranillo. This variety has excellent potential for quality, its deep cherry fruit providing concentration, naturally high acidity contributing freshness and finely textured tannins offering longevity. For those of you who like a toasty element to their wine, it also has a strong affinity to oak.

Look for wines labelled ‘Tinto Fino’ (the local name for Tempranillo) for minimally oaked, more fruit-forward wines. Those labelled ‘Reserva’ will have spent a mandatory minimum of one year in oak, and Gran Reserva two. As you go up this scale, expect a higher level of toasty, vanillin and spice notes alongside your bright berry fruit flavours. You should also expect to spend more money!

Recommendation: Bodegas Arrocal Joven Roble, Ribera Del Duero – A bright and youthful Tinto Fino with great purity of fruit and depth. Nine months in French oak barriques contributes roundness of texture and toasty complexity.

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