Market Research in Ribera del Duero – Part 1

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.

The first winery was Emina. It was okay, sorta lackluster. And not much idea about the wines cause we only sipped one. But what I thought was interesting, was that they make two kinds of non-alcoholic wine beverages. This one is really just like sparkling water, but the other one actually comes in little wine bottles and is supposed to taste more like wine. We bought them just to give them a try, so I’ll have to report back on that front.

Ah yes, this is more like it. Legaris was our second stop. Lovely place, interesting architectural design of the building itself, and yummy wines. Yes, a few of those made it home with us.

One of the wine production spaces at Vina Mayor, our third stop. Another pretty place, a rather modern tour (she carried around a iPad like thing and changed the lighting and ran sort of trippy videos as we toured through), and some good wine.

The castle at Peñafiel, built between the 13th and 15th centuries. Really lovely from the outside, set high atop a hill as they all seem to be. We took a guided tour through – the only way they will let you through – a pretty big place, and it has a wine museum in the middle. Pretty views too.

A view from the top of the castle down over one of the wings and the town below.

We rounded out the day with a beautiful sunset (and a BIG chill in the air…). That’s our hotel on the left.

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.


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