K&L staff member Sarah Covey is on location and blogging LIVE from Ribera del Duero! Follow her in her adventures on as she keeps us updated on Uncorked!
Saturday morning, I watched the sun rise over San Francisco. Sunday morning, I watched the sun rise over Madrid. Enjoying a cafe con leche in the balmy morning light, myself and three international wine professionals waited for the rest of our colleagues to arrive from the United States. 18 of us from all over the country were invited by the "Drink Ribera. Drink Spain" campaign to participate in a week long passport trip to Ribera Del Duero.
Ribera Del Duero is located in Spain's northern plateau, about 2 hours north of Madrid. Officially, the Denominacion de Origen (D.O.) of Ribera Del Duero was founded in 1982, by a group of wine producers and growers who were committed to the promotion of standards of quality for their wines. Historically, wine has been made in Ribera since the Roman times, falling in and out of practice with Spain's complicated history, but only in the last 30 years has there been an explosion in the incredible quality of the region's wines. Today, Ribera Del Duero provides a benchmark for Spanish wines in the global market.
95% of the wine in Ribera is made from Tempranillo, known locally as Tinto Fino or Tinto del Pais. The clone of Tinto Fino used here is specific to Ribera, and the wines are deeply expressive of this place. This is not your Tempranillo from Rioja or from Southern Spain! The Duero River Valley provides soil as diverse as those in Burgundy, with each little village producing incredibly varied expressions of this one grape. There are 8,356 growers and 270 wineries here, producing a mere 1/2 million litres of wine a year. Ribera is at high elevation (2,500 to 2,800 feet), and though the climate is very extreme- snow in the winter and blistering heat in the summer- it is perfect for quality winemaking.
The Consejo Regulador de la Denominacion de Origen Ribera Del Duero is the govering body that oversees all aspects of the viticultural and winemaking process for all of the wines in the DO. They dictate where the grapes originate, the varieties and percentages used, vineyard practices (including pruning, density, and yields), winemaking procedures, alcohol levels and labeling. Though this sounds terribly restrictive, it provides a fantastic structure in which producers are able to create truly outstanding wines.
The schedule for the week is pretty incredible. We've got a lecture from the Consejo to start, 30 wineries to meet who would like to be represented in the United States, 11 wineries to visit which vary in history, winemaking and style, and many, many tapas to sample along the way.
Salud & stay tuned!