It’s the grapes – It’s the land.
Ribera del Duero (D.O.) as a wine region is steeped in history and without question is a fortunate intersection of climate, culture, and geography. This means that the grapes that grow in Ribera del Duero, are enabled by factors that make them unique and ultimately create the wines that you and I love and have been sought after for over 2 millennia.
Fun Fact 1:
Tempranillo = Tinto Fino
The hallmark grape for Ribera del Duero is Tinto Fino a.k.a.Tempranillo, coincidentally, it is also referred to as Spain’s “Noble Grape”. Tinto Fino is important to Ribera del Duero, and vice-versa because, like any plant, climate is of utmost importance. Ribera del Duero has three key factors that make it one of the finest places to grow Tinto Fino: 1 Climate (hot & dry), 2 Topography (altitude & soil), & 3 Culture (tradition & experience).
Tinto Fino has a dark and thick skin which means it can handle lots of sun and heat to mature properly. Grenache & Carignan are the secondary grapes to the region and are commonly blended with Tinto Fino to temper its tannin and power. So the next time you are looking for a Ribera del Duero wine, take note of the blend on the bottle. The blend of grapes will offer varying flavors and mouth-feel, and depending on your taste, you may like wines with more or less Tinto Fino or other blended varietals.
Fun Fact 2:
Tempranillo has over 40 different names throughout the world. Here’s a few!
Aragonêz, Cencibel, Tempranillo de la Rioja, Tinto de la Ribera, Tinto del Toro, Tinto Fino, Tinto Pais, Tinto Ribiera, Valdepeñas , Verdiell…
When trying wines from Ribera del Duero, another key thing to note is the age of the wine. This is especially important when you are drinking wines that are powerful by nature, as is Tinto Fino. Spain is known for its aging classifications, (Crianza, Reserva, Gran Reserva) as when a wine ages, it will naturally become more mellow and the various flavors better integrated. Unfortunately, we are not always able to drink well-aged wine. In turn, when drinking a younger wine you want to make sure you let it breathe. This can be done with a traditional decanter or even with a wine aerator. (You can enter to win a Soirée Wine Aerator from Drink – Wine Drink Spain here).
Next week we will talk more about climate and how this effects the grapes and ultimately the wine in the bottle. Within this you can expect to learn some more easy ways to better understand the wine label and what you can expect from the bottle.
Stay Tuned & Cheers!