We offer 3 different wine tours from Madrid. They are all fantastic tours so in case you hesitate you can rest assure all of them offer great food, wines and are guided by very senior and highly professional guides that are not only wine experts but also dedicated to ensure you have a fun and memorable day during your stay with us.
Ribera del Duero wine country is a land where castles and monasteries have shaped local history, including the production of wines. The region of Ribera del Duero is becoming one of Spain´s most well-recognized wine regions? Recently it was ranked in the New York Times article 52 Places to Go in 2018. We are sure you will fall in love with this regions wines, landscapes, wineries and people.
In case you are interested in combining Ribera del Duero and Rioja in one single trip (2 or 3 days) we recommend you to have a look at our 2 and 3 day wine tours from Madrid. You will be able to combine 2 of Spain´s best wine regions in one trip!
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.
Did you know that Ribera del Duero is becoming one of Spain´s most well-recognized wine regions? Recently it was ranked in the New York Times article 52 Places to Go in 2018.
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 that ensures that wines produced to 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 than exhibits the region's 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 in some of our tours (look for details in the tour description section).
Ribera del Duero is located in the heart of Castilla y León. The wine-producing region extends over a hundred miles, following the course of the Alto Douro. It covers 19 municipalities of Valladolid, 5 of Segovia, 5 of Soria and 59 in Burgos. Burgos is home to over 80% of the region's vineyards.
Some of the vineyards run very close to the banks of the Duero River. Irrigation crops are situated at the lowest points of the region and grains are plated at the highest while the vineyards can be found in the middle. Some winemakers actually prefer to plant there vineyards in the higher terraces because at this altitude the vines freeze and give a completely different character to the wine.
History of Ribera del Duero
Ribera del Duero is a relatively new wine appellation in Spain, but it is also considered to be one of the top wine regions in the world. The fame and notoriety of the Ribera wine region are thanks primarily to the contributions of two wineries in particular: Vega Sicilia and Pesquera.
The region was first used to produce wine, as are most Spanish wine regions, by the Romans. The wine produced in Ribera was used to supply the Roman legions. It was, however, the monastic orders who spread wine culture in this area, centuries later. Monks from Cluny have been producing wine in Valbuena de Duero since the 12th century.
But the biggest change for Ribera del Duero would come in the 19th century when the Lecanda family began their winemaking project. The Lecanda family began planting a series of international grape varieties, which was revolutionary at the time in Spain. The winery would use Cabernet sauvignon, merlot, and Malbec among others and produced a series of groundbreaking wines. The winery would end up being known as Vega Sicilia.
For over a century Vega Sicilia would be the only relevant wine producer in a region that no one had heard of.
The arrival of the phylloxera plague in the region coincided with the crisis of 98 in Spain. The loss of several important colonies (Cuba and the Philippines among others) resulted in a devastating crisis in Spain and the phylloxera plague wiped out all the vineyards in the peninsula leaving a generation of Spaniards without wine.
After the great plague, Vega Sicilia regained its prestige thanks to the initiative of a Basque winemaker, Txomin Garramiola, but still, the Ribera region didn’t receive any recognition as a top tier wine region. It was during the 1970s when a bold man, Alejandro Fernandez, began producing a series of excellent wines. In particular, his “Reserva” had critics stunned.
Alejandro´s wine was Pesquera the Tinto Pesquera was an amazing wine. Sensual and full-bodied. The wine exalted aromas of ripe berries and prunes, with mysterious notes of graphite and smoke. Over the years, Alejandro Fernández would go on to further improved his methods and managed to achieve wines with even finer tannins.
In 1982 Ribera was finally recognized as its own appellation and, thanks to the contributions of smaller producers and investors who saw potential in the region, the reputation of Ribera del Duero began to grow.
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 of 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 meters below ground level, the temperature in the caves stays constant at around 11°C – something necessary for the aging 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 tours 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.
As for the grapes that are grown, the most traditional variety of the area is Tempranillo. In Ribera del Duero Tempranillo is known as “Tinta Fina” (Fine Red) or “Tinta del País”. In Ribera Tempranillo is more pigmented and has better fruit acidity than in other Spanish climates. Tempranillo developed qualities that enable highly structured wines. Grenache, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, and Merlot are also grown in this region. Mixed with Tempranillo, they are able to produce wines of 13 º that bear a longer oxidative aging process. This coupage produces rich and elegant wines. The juicy tannins melt the smoky and toasted flavors of the oak aging process.
The climate in Ribera del Duero can be labeled as continental, with very extreme variations in temperature: hot summers and freezing winters. Spring frosts are common, especially in May, which has a major influence on the harvest.
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. Another 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.
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