Wine Education Wednesday – Ribera del Duero

Region: Ribera del Duero

Country: Spain (located north-central, in Castille & Lyon)

Grape(s): The wines of Ribera del Duero are almost exclusively red. White wines are rare and not exported. The reds come primarily from a variation of Tempranillo, which goes by the name of Tinto Fino or Tinto del Pais here. Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Malbec are allowed and often used in the blend.  Garnacha is used for rosados.

What’s it taste like:  If you’re buying a bottle at $20 or less, you’re likely to get black cherry and plum notes, with bright acidity and dusty, yet smooth tannins. You may find some to be smoky and others to be more jammy. It’s a good idea to read tasting notes on each producer. On the higher end, expect notes of tobacco, licorice, blackberry and minerals. Firm tannins, sometimes rustic, but also with an old-world elegance. The best wines of the area are refreshing, yet sturdy and complex, with an ability to age and mature gracefully. Power + Finesse is what the best wines offer.

Rules & Regulations: Ribera del Duero is a DO, or Denominacion de Origen, which is a quality level that adheres to specific standards set down by a governing body, or Consejo Regulador, for each region. It has been one since 1982. If you care to delve in and learn the nitty gritty on the DO system and Ribera del Duero's regulations, check out Wines from Spain ( They know their stuff.

Producers: Tpesquerahe most famous wine of the region is Vega Sicilia, possibly the most expensive and sought-after wine in Spain. Tasting this wine can be a magical experience. I had the honor of tasting both the ‘68 and the ‘70 in NYC once. This was 6 years ago and it is still fresh in my memory, ranking as one of the top wine tasting experiences ever. 
Other producers include:
Value ($20 or under): Torres Celeste, Vina Gormaz, Abadia Retuerta – these three producers create wines that generally show intense fruit and smooth tannins.
Higher End: Emilio Moro, Condado de Haza, Pesquera, Comenge,  Aalto

What are some of your favorite producers?

5 thoughts on “Wine Education Wednesday – Ribera del Duero”

  1. Great post Gwendolyn! Most Ameircan’s only think of Rioja when thinking of Spanish wines. I have been trying to tell as many people as possible about the great wines & values from Ribera del Duero. Also glad you included Abadia Retuerta in the value section. This winery and it’s vineyards are just down the street from Vegas Sicilia but at a fraction of the price, under $20 per bottle. You can map it on to see right were the winery is.

    As a side note, Abadia Retuerta translates to Abbey on the river bend. When you map it on you will see it is located right on a bend of the Douro River.


  2. Thanks for the comment! I love Ribera del Duero wines, but lots of consumers are unfamiliar with them because many Spanish wines can be intimidating. Trying to give out some basics on a few of the areas. Love the extra information – I didn’t know that Abadia was right down the road from Vega Sicilia! Definitely going to map in on the site.

  3. I LOVE Ribera wines, sometimes a little more than Rioja. And it’s true, many people are not familiar with this region and are missing out on some AMAZING wines! One of my most favorite is the Vina Solorca Gran Reserva…. great dark jammy fruit, but smooth and not over-powering. Good oak aging and it has this unique little taste of coconut from the American oak. I write about Spanish wines on my blog if you’re interested: Happy blogging!

  4. Richard, – enjoyed your article on Abadia-Retuerta. Thanks for posting it. I just tried the Rivola the other night and really enjoyed it. Great value Spanish wine. Yum. Look forward to trying the higher tier. Cheers!

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