Wine From The Ground- Up.
This week we are focusing on climate and the sense of place that distinguishes Ribera del Duero as a D.O. Last week we spoke about the grapes that are common to Ribera del Duero, and how their blending effects the wine in the bottle.
So what is it about Ribera del Duero that makes their grapes unique, and ultimately their wine some of the finest in the world?
Last week we explained the skin thickness of grapes, and how Tinto Fino (aka Tempranillo) is well-suited for hot climates. Ribera del Duero has extreme temperature swings. In the summer, the heat can be 104F or warmer and the nights around 60F. The winters are cold, freezing or below, and the summers are quick. Temperature is intrinsic to growing great grapes, and it is not only heat the grapes love, they also need cool evenings to re-balance their sugar and acid.
Fun Fact 1: Diurnal Swing is the technical term used to frame the difference in the hottest temperature and the lowest temperature in a 24hr daily cycle. Areas that have 30-40F degree diurnal swings, typically make fantastic grapes / wines.
And although the local climate is well-suited for growing grapes, the temperature shifts are all based on the topography and altitude of the region. The local terrain has been worn away over time by the Duero River, which is also another climate moderator. A climate moderator is a natural feature that affects the local climate. The Duero river will help create a consistent temperature and provide a channel for cool air to move into warmer regions. And another very important aspect of the region is its elevation. The high elevation allows greater diurnal swings, and allows better concentration of sunshine. .
Fun Fact 2: The Duero River runs West to East and is 897Km long. The Duero is a known climate moderator, which will channel air flow and stimulate localized convection patterns, making an otherwise dry and arid region suitable for growing grapes. The Duero starts at 2100M and ends at sea level. Ribera del Duero is approximately 850-900M above sea level.
This all said, growing grapes to make great wine is attributed to many factors in the geographical context, soil, and temperature; which are all evident in Ribera del Duero.