Welcome to Ribera Del Duero

To terroir or not to terroir, that is the question!

Yesterday I posted a tasting of a Ribera del Duero wine and mentioned that it came from the Valladolid side of this wine region, which the wine maker felt was the better area. Well of course he would think that but it made me curious: what are the regions of the D.O. Ribera del Duero and what are the differences in the wines produced?

Well talk about difficult to find! Normally you plug a question like that into google and hundreds of articles pop up from respected wine writers answering your question in full. I usually pick the easiest to understand and repost it for you all. Not possible in this case. There is very little out there.

I did find a couple of articles that touch on the subject but not in any great depth. I have provided links to these articles by decanter.com and spanishwinelover.com below.

The question seems to be wrapped up in the whole ‘terroir’ argument raging through the wine industry at the moment. I.e. how much does the soil effect the quality of wine you produce and therefore how much should you define the wine through the soil it was grown in.

Regions like Burgundy and Bordeaux in France use labelling systems that divide the areas into parcels of land identified by their terroir. The wine producers in this area use similar grape blends but differentiate according to where they are in the region. The newer world wine producers, like Australia, introduced a system which identified wine via the grape used rather than the region, and used grapes from all over to ensure a similar result year on year regardless of weather conditions. Many wine drinkers find it easier to follow wines based on grape variety rather than those based on terroir. But terroir is making a come back.

Ribera del Duero seems to be stuck between the two. It is a relatively young denominación set up in the 1980s. During that time it has expanded from 9 bodegas to 270. That’s some seriously exponential growth. It produces a diverse range of top quality wines based around the Tempranillo varietal and covers a area of 70km East West along the river Duero. Those in the know divide Ribera del Duero into three distinct regions: Valladolid (Peñafiel), Burgos (Roa) and Soria (San Esteban De Gormaz).

So I now find myself in a dilemma. I have always been an advocate of simpler wine labelling systems based on grape variety. It frustrates me when wine makes do not state on the bottle the grapes they used in their blend. But now I find myself equally as frustrated by the lack of information on the terroir for some of these Ribera de Dueros.

I’m greedy and I want the label to tell me everything. They’re just going to have to come up with bigger labels.

Click on image to open the article
Click on image to open the article

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