Discover Ribera del Duero in six wines

Discover Ribera del Duero in six wines

by Westgarth Wines July 01, 2024

Ribera del Duero is a premier wine-producing region in Spain, known for its full-bodied and robust red wines. Located in the northern plateau of the Iberian Peninsula, this region benefits from a continental climate, yielding wines of extraordinary depth and aging potential. The distinctive terroir, characterized by its high altitude and chalky clay soils, combined with extreme temperature variations, helps in crafting wines with intense flavors and complex aromas.

Fast facts

Name: The name "Ribera del Duero" translates to "bank of the Duero" in Spanish, referring to its location along the Duero River which plays a crucial role in shaping the region’s climate and viticulture.

Location: Nestled in the heart of Castilla y León, Ribera del Duero spans four provinces. This strategic location offers a unique microclimate that significantly influences the ripening of the Tempranillo grape, locally known as Tinto Fino.

Climate and soil: The region experiences a significant diurnal temperature variation which is ideal for retaining acidity and developing phenolic maturity in grapes. The soils are predominantly limestone and clay, which are ideal for the Tempranillo grape, enhancing the wine's color, aroma, and structure.

Grapes: Ribera del Duero is practically a monoculture of Tempranillo. However, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Malbec are also authorized varieties, alongside small quantities of Grenache and Albillo Mayor – a parent of Tempranillo.

Ribera del Duero’s wines are celebrated for their strength, tannin structure, and potential for aging, often exhibiting flavors of blackberry, cherry, and plum, with spicy and earthy undertones.

Indulge in the wines:

Named in tribute to influential Finnish designer Alvar Aalto, Aalto Bodegas y Viñedos was founded in 1999 by Mariano García, who spent 30 years as a winemaker for Vega Sicilia, and Javier Zaccagnini, previously the president of the Ribera regulatory wine trade body.

Pago Seleccionadas is made from fruit selected from the best plots within the vineyards, and only in the very best years. Grapes, harvested from vines aged between 40 and 80 years of age on a variety of complex soils, are then vinified and aged for up to 24 months in new 100% new French oak. Smoky and expressive dark fruit is complimented by earthy, refined oak character, power, and serious length.

Danish oenologist Peter Sisseck was given the nickname "Pingus" by his aunt in order to differentiate him from his uncle of the same name, a reference to her favorite cartoon characters ‘Peter and Ping’.

When Robert Parker blind tasted the wine, he awarded it the highest score given to any young Spanish wine, 96-100 points. He said that it was “one of the greatest young red wines I have ever tasted.” The wine world immediately took notice, and Pingus became an almost overnight success.

Pingus offers a tapestry of complex aromas ranging from ripe black fruits to lavender and truffles. Dense, powerful, yet elegant, it is a true reflection of Ribera del Duero's potential for producing world-class wines.

Flor de Pingus was introduced in 1995 as a second label to the flagship Pingus wine. Since then, it has
established itself as a top-tier wine in its own right, offering a glimpse of the excellence of Pingus while being more approachable in terms of price and availability to a wider audience.

Predominantly made from Tempranillo (with some Garnacha in recent years), the wine has a rich, complex and full-bodied profile. Its highest-scoring Wine Advocate vintages are the 2016, which received 95-points from Luis Gutiérrez, and the 2021 with a barrel range of 95-96 points.

The estate, founded by the Moro family, has produced wines, celebrated for their depth and complexity and crafted exclusively from the Tempranillo grape, for three generations, beginning in the early 20th century.

A flagship wine from the estate, Malleolus de Sanchomartin is a single vineyard expression from old vines, capturing the essence of its terroir. This wine is intensely aromatic, with a rich palate of black cherry and plum, accented by notes of vanilla and spice due to new French oak aging. It's a powerful yet polished wine that mirrors the rugged beauty of Ribera del Duero.

Vega Sicilia estate was founded in 1864 and is considered Spain’s First Growth. This is because the vineyards are planted with not just Tempranillo, but also with Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Malbec, grown from cuttings taken from Bordeaux by founder Don Eloy Lecanda y Chaves.

Unico, which translates to “unique,” is a blend of Tempranillo with a varying percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon. Aged for a minimum of ten years, usually with six years spent in French and American oak before bottle aging, it takes on incredible nuance and complexity. The final wines are superbly deep, precise, and silkily textured with notes of black fruit, cedar and smoky minerality.  

Established in the early 1990s, Hacienda Monasterio was developed under the guidance of Peter Sisseck of Pingus and is well known for its distinctive approach of blending traditional and modern techniques to produce wines that are both expressive and refined.

This wine features a vibrant expression of fruit, layered with herbal notes and underpinned by a solid structure of tannins, making it both accessible in its youth and worthy of aging. The integration of oak and fruit here is impeccable, showcasing the harmonious potential of Ribera del Duero wines.

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