Yes, yes, yes, I am lucky that my fiance (heeehee, I still get tickled when I write that) needs to do things like “check out a wine region” in order to know it well enough to bring clients there. And clearly he can’t do it by himself, because first of all, well, it’s just not as much fun, and second of all, he needs a American woman’s opinion, right? Or not. Whatevs, I went with him anyway.
Ribera del Duero is a wine region about two hours south of us, that dark purple spot on the map. It is relatively close to Valladolid, and not terribly far from Burgos. It is said that winemaking there dates back some 2000 years, and that some of the earliest underground cellars in towns in this area were built in the 13th century. The strip of land runs about 115km along the Duero river, and some 200 wine cellars. The main grape grown is Tempranillo which does very well in the short season and extreme temps of the region.
Winery visits here are a bit different than the “taste four glasses of wine at each place and make sure you have a driver” version in the states. Here, for the most part, you take a tour of the winery, they explain in detail the process of making wine (which is actually very interesting…the first or second time), and then at the end you might get a wee lil taste of one of the wines. Or not. I did learn a lot though, actually – they talked about grape selection, separation and fermentation, etc. (I was reminded of what a scientific process wine making really is), require temps and humidity levels and how they are maintained, the difference between aging wine in French or American oak, and walked us through the duration each of their wines must spend in the barrel/bottle before being sold (C wrote a really good post a while back explaining the differences). Good stuff. And some really good wines.
Part 2 – the funny night we had at the hotel, what IS a bodega actually, and our fabulous lunch at Cepa 21. Sounds riveting, no? Snicker.