Castilla y Leon
Castilla y León is the regional name of this area, but most of the greatest wines are from vineyards around the Duero River. Ribera del Duero (meaning, the “banks of the River Duero”), is predominantly planted with Tempranillo. Here however, its personality is entirely different to the Tempranillo from Rioja, four hours’ drive away. This is due to the different composition of the soil in Ribera (largely limestone) and also to the greater nocturnal and diurnal temperature differences (sometimes by up to 20 degrees).
The region’s success has seen vineyards expand, and now names such as Sardón del Duero, Arribes, Arlanza, Cigales and other seeming satellites are garnering well-deserved attention.
On the other side of the Duero River, the Rueda DO has claimed its own international spotlight with the Verdejo grape, offering a white wine likened to (and occasionally blended with) Sauvignon Blanc. Both share bright citrus aromas, but the texture of Verdejo is richer, more like pear, and tends to be lower in acidity.
Denominations of origin:
Ribera del Duero, DO
Vinos de la Tierra
Bierzo is located in the northeast of the region of Castilla and Leon, in the province of Leon. It borders both Galicia and Asturias.
The area is located between the coast and the interior, which has motivated the settlement of various towns and civilizations throughout history. The vineyards are strategically placed on terraces of relatively low incline next to the rivers, on hillsides with an average height of between 450 and 1000 meters. The semi humid climate and mild temperatures are prime for grapevine growing.
The production of the protected wines must be carried out with the exclusively recognized grapes: Red varieties, Mencía and Garnacha Tintorera; as well as the white varieties Godello, Doña Blanca, Palomino and Malvasía. Nearly the 75% of its production is planted with Mencía.
Ribera del Duero
Denominacion de Origen
Ribera del Duero is blessed by a combination of terroir, microclimate and a native grape that gives superb, complex red wines.
At this altitude Tempranillo (also known as Tinta del País or Tinto Fino) produces wines that are delicious when they are young but also have the capacity to age into magnficent Gran Reservas.
The wines grown along its banks are intense and concentrated. Roast lamb and goat are favourites here, and the cold Atlantic seems far away in climate and cuisine. Though many of the vineyards have only a gentle, round contour, this is high elevation viticulture: days are warm or even hot; nights are cold. Ripening is slowed; the wines become rich and ripe but hang on to their dusty, astringent structure. This produces thicker skinned grapes, which translates to darker wines with fuller body. Less expensive wines are for immediate, delicious drinking; the top wines can last decades.
In the wake of the DO's creation in 1982 many vineyard sites were re-planted, and wineries of every kind began to invest in modern winemaking technology. The Regulating Council (Consejo Regulador) has been active in encouraging research and development projects. This newly acquired collective expertise has made a huge impact on the quality of the wines, which are now exported all around the world. Ribera del Duero wines command some of Spain’s highest prices.
Denominación de Origen
The Denomination of Origin Rueda was approved by the Ministry of Agriculture on January 12, 1980; it was the first Denomination of Origin to be approved in the Region of Castilla y León, after years of hard work to earn acknowledgement and protection for its indigenous grape variety: Verdejo.
The region possesses exceptional natural resources for the production of top-quality whites. Verdejo itself, combined with continental weather and gravelly soils are the main contributors.
The Verdejo grape has been grown in the Denomination of Origin Rueda for over centuries. Its origins date back to the 11th century, to the times of king Alfonso VI, when the basin of the river Duero was repopulated with people from Cantabria, the Basque Country and the Muslim southern regions. It was very probably the latter, the so-called Mozarabics, who brought the Verdejo variety from North Africa, after a period of adaptation in the south of Spain.
It has a unique flavour, with a hint of herbs, fresh pear and an excellent level of acidity. Its volume and clean expression of fruit is balanced nicely by its characteristic bitter touch.
Rueda has long, cold winters, short springs with late frosts, and dry, hot summers, only altered by untimely storms. In terms of latitude, the Rueda region is located within the Mediterranean area. Its altitude, however, corresponds to that of a continental region. This too, sets up an interesting contrast.
The best vineyards in the D.O. Rueda have the typical “gravelly” soils. Dark grey-brown soils, rich in calcium and magnesium, stony but easy to farm, with good ventilation and draining, and limestone outcrops on the hilltops.
Castilla y Leon
Vinos de la Tierra
Castilla y León VdT covers all the territory of the Community of Castile-León. Don´t let the more generic name put you off, however. Many wineries have actively chosen to establish themselves outside the traditional and respected DOs. Not only are they able to buy land at a more reasonable price, planting outside the DO also allows them greater freedom with the varieties they plant and the amount of time they choose to age their wines in oak.
Prestigious winery Quinta Sardonia, established by venerated Vega Sicilia winemaker Peter Sisseck, is a prime example of this. Quinta Sardonia is located in Sardón del Duero, next to the Duero river and just across the road from where Ribera del Duero finishes. This has allowed the winery to experiment with varietals such as Malbec and Petit Verdot, which wouldn’t otherwise be permitted.
If you would like to see all the wines available, please visit our Wine Store.