Ribera del Duero´s hidden charms
You may be considering to join our Ribera del Duero tour from Madrid. In this section we provide you with more information about the region, its wines and reasons why you should not miss it.
Where is Ribera del Duero?
Ribera del Duero is situated in Northern Spain on a plateau (2300ft above sea level) and is made of four provinces: Segovia, Valladolid, Burgos and Soria The region is a part of Spain´s Designation of Origin (Denominación de Origen) – a regulatory system which ensures that wines produced follow a strict set of rules. You might be asking yourself, will I only see vineyard after vineyard whilst having a tour of Ribera del Duero? The answer is quite straightforward: no. Even though there are 300 wineries scattered around Ribera del Duero, you will find castles, Islamic watchtowers, monuments, fortresses, monasteries, museums and much more that exhibits the regions rich heritage of the Moors and Christians. A wine tour of Ribera del Duero will involve learning about the region´s history whilst visiting noteworthy historical sites on your way around.
During our wine tour to Ribera del Duero you will learn about wine, heritage and the gastronomy of Ribera del Duero with a brief stop in the historic city of Segovia.
The underground wine caves in Ribera del Duero
The picturesque landscapes give Ribera del Duero its unique charm, but there is also another fascinating aspect about this wine region in Spain: the underground wine caves. It was during the Middle Ages when these underground caves were built and used for wine production….but why? As the cellars are approximately 14 metres below ground level, the temperature in the caves stays constant at around 11°C – something necessary for the ageing process and storage of wine. You may be wondering if all wineries use the underground caves for their wine production but it is not the case. When you visit the modern, innovation-focused wineries which have renewed their production facilities, you notice the close resemblance to a luxury villa or country house. It is the traditional wineries in Ribera del Duero that continue to use the underground wine caves, and yes – you can tour them. The caves consist of a network of tunnels containing not only barrels but also old equipment dating hundreds of years back, used for wine production – something quite impressive.
Our wine tour to Ribera del Duero normally includes both modern and traditional wineries in Ribera del Duero (with an exclusive tour of their underground wine caves). You will feel as if you have been teleported back into the Medieval Ages.
Grape varieties used in Ribera del Duero
Ribera del Duero is famous mainly for the production of red wines and the region´s guidelines prohibits the usage of all white-grape varieties with the exception of just one type - the Albillo grape. The most common variety used in Ribera del Duero is the Tempranillo grape – known for its early ripening compared to other types and harvested usually in August-September. The skins of the Tempranillo grape are also thick to withstand damage from extreme weather conditions that occur from time to time. So what aromas can you expect? Wines produced with Tempranillo grapes are usually low in acidity and emit delicate aromas of plum, cherry, dried fig and raspberry. Is it the only red-variety permitted for wine production in Ribera del Duero? No. Producers in the region can also grow other red-varieties such as Merlot, Cabernet-Sauvignon, Malbec and Garnacha. However, there is one rule for any wine to be officially recognized by the Designation of Origin: at least 75% of it must consist of Tempranillo. It is said that Tempranillo is one of the well-adapted grape types in Spain and doesn´t usually grow as well in other countries.
What is the weather like in Ribera del Duero?
The climate in Ribera del Duero is Mediterranean-Continental and there is a moderate/low annual rainfall (450-600mm). Indeed there are vast differences in temperature between the day and night which contributes significantly to making the grapes strong as well as their tannins very concentrated. The hottest months in the region are in July and August with temperatures reaching up to 38 °C, therefore the best months to visit would be from April till June and September till mid-November.
What is the gastronomy like in Ribera del Duero?
Besides the wine, the gastronomy is also one of the exciting parts of visiting. The signature dish of Ribera del Duero is the delicate suckling lamb which is roasted in clay oven along with fresh herbs. But what is it that makes this dish so tasty? The method in which it is cooked makes the meat juicy and tender and the skin very crispy, not to forget mentioning that the dish pairs exceptionally well with the red wines of Ribera del Duero. Other typical cuisine of the region consists of cheese, black pudding (a mixture of pork meat and rice), Castilian Soup and different sorts of puff pastries.