Ribera del Duero
Is the main driving force of wine making in Castilla y León. The longevity of its red wines, their complex tannic structure, their strong fruit, and the contribution of the tempranillo grape variety have all provided foundations on which the new wines of La Ribera have been built. Although rosé wines, young reds and reds briefly aged in oak are all produced on a comparatively small scale, the wine categories where Ribera del Duero really comes into its own are the reds designated as Crianza, Reserva and Gran Reserva.
This wine growing and producing area gives rise to an extraordinary mosaic of bodegas which make wines that express the characteristics of La Ribera's particular combination of land and vines. The greatest virtue of La Ribera reds is their long life - Crianza and Reserva wines which can be kept for between six and ten years, depending on the vintage. In exceptional years, they can be cellared for much longer.
The Denominación de Origen (D.O.) covers an area at the convergence of the four provinces of Valladolid, Burgos, Segovia and Soria.
In the southern part of the district of Tierra de Campos, the landscape is dominated by large stretches of vines and undulating hills which extend to the banks of the river Pisuerga. On the outskirts of Valladolid, we find the Denominación de Origen Cigales, which used to be famous for its claretes (dark rosés) and is known today for its modern rosé and red wines. Cigales is the head of the district and the town which gives its name to this Designation of Origin.
The queen of Cigales wines is the red tempranillo grape variety. This particular cépage, along with other white grape varieties, is the basis for producing modern rosé wines. But the great discovery of this district, known historically for its clarete wines, has been its reds. These wines have burst onto the market in perfect harmony with current trends: wines with colour, strong aromatic potential and tannic structure. The tempranillo grape of Cigales is not grown far from the Duero region, indeed the river Pisuerga flows into the Duero a few kilometres downstream. Today, Cigales is establishing itself as an important region for modern young rosé wines, as well as promising ventures into barrel-aged reds.
This area produces two types of young white wines - both very aromatic and produced from the verdejo and sauvignon blanc grape varieties. The young verdejo wines have experienced a rare change, and have gone from being white wines with character on the palate and good ageing qualities to white wines with a full nose, which are very aromatic. Cask-fermented white wines are produced every year in this area, and for the last decade, sparkling wines based on the verdejo grape variety have also been made.
Since the 2000 vintage, the Designación de Origen has also included reds and rosé wines after the incorporation of the vineyards and bodegas of the Asociación de Vinos de la Tierra de Medina del Campo.