We recently sat down with Executive Chef Cristobal Lopez from Miami based Spanish restaurant Xixón to chat about why working with Ribera y Rueda wines is easy and delicious. We hope his thoughts inspire all your pairings!
What sets RyR wines apart from other wine regions?
Tempranillo grapes in Ribera del Duero have a special tenderness and texture that is unique to the region. For me, Verdejo grapes add a special character to the Rueda region, they have a strong identity and sense of place.
How easy do you find it to work with RyR wines?
It is so easy! The wines are diverse, so in general they are versatile and adaptable to so many recipes and pairings.
What’s your favorite pairing for RyR wines?
It’s not easy to choose one. Perhaps a “cocido” or stew with Ribera and a white fish with Rueda.
How would you describe RyR wines to a customer?
Generous wines, with a big offer and a variety of tones and flavors. Very easy to drink.
What would you recommend your customers look for in RyR wines?
A variety of flavors! I always try to ask what they want to eat first. Having that information, I will try to offer the best pairing for them
Master Sommelier Alexander LaPratt recently led two trade sessions on Ribera y Rueda wines during VinePair’s Great Drinks Experience virtual festival. The sessions provided valuable trade education on the regions, in addition to practical and usable advice on the key selling points of the wines and how to talk about them on the restaurant or sales floor.
Alexander shared that there’s more to Rueda than the well-known, stainless steel fermented Verdejo. And similarly, in Ribera del Duero, more than robust red wines with prominent tannins. Curious? Let’s dive in…
How to Hand-Sell and Entice Your Customer to try Ribera y Rueda:
If your customer likes crisp Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio, a stainless steel, fresh Verdejo is in order. For those that love fuller bodied whites, an oaked Verdejo is similar to a Chablis, lees influenced Verdejo similar to Grüner and Muscadet, and more powerful styles of Verdejo similar to Assyrtiko.
If your customer asks for a Napa Cabernet, they’ll enjoy bigger Ribera del Duero Tempranillo from classic producers. Those who love Pinot Noir, Cru Beaujolais or Burgundy will enjoy the fresher, lighter-oaked styles of Ribera Tempranillo, particularly those that come from a colder climate.
A Master Somm’s Thoughts on Ribera y Rueda:
Rueda wines offer balance and refreshing fruit at an amazing value. The styles can range from classic, fresh stainless steel to fuller, richer, oak fermented styles as well as lees-aging, and wines from old-vine, pre-phylloxera vineyards. Wines that age well in the bottle, regardless of oak regime, also abound.
Queen of Rueda, Verdejo is an indigenous grape varietal that buds early and is drought resistant. Most Verdejo’s are crisp, mineral-driven, food friendly, straight-forward, crowd pleasing wines.
Rueda wines are beloved for their high price quality ratio and diversity in styles – wonderful options for by-the-glass specials or back bar.
In the region, you’ll find mostly small growers. Surprising to some, organic wines are very popular here, though not many are certifying as organic as it is an expensive process. You’ll also find there are many growers looking towards biodynamic wines.
2018-2019 were very good, classic years for Rueda. Lots of sunshine and very dry which elevated the climate found in the high altitude and stony soils of Rueda.
Alexander’s Key Takeaway: Rueda, hands-down, is one of the best values in the white wine world for the minerality and the style. Many of the wines are like ‘Wow, this is great,’ and then once you know the price, it’s a no-brainer. If I’m going to spend $12-15 on something, you might as well get a beautiful bottle of Rueda.
Ribera del Duero:
Ribera del Duero wines have an incredible affinity, complexity, age-ability and food & wine pairability. They work so well with so many different cuisines.
Queen in Ribera del Duero, Tempranillo is elegant yet powerful, with a lot of structure and red/black fruit. Though you’ll find Ribera Tempranillos are really quite different with a unique story than the rest of Tempranillos in Spain. In fact, locals refer to it as Tinto Fino in which you’ll find the Ribera Tempranillo berries are bit smaller and their skin is thicker which means they have a higher skin-to-juice ratio. The flavor profile also changes quite a bit – as you move into Ribera, the Tempranillo grape shows more black fruit than red fruit. As you’ll move north through the region, you’ll find the black fruit is accentuated even further. Flavor profiles vary widely depending on elevation and the Western vs. Eastern areas of the region. You can think of the region as divided in thirds, with different styles in the West, center and East.
Ribera del Duero wines are quite diverse. From young wines that can be decanted for a few hours to wines that grow in complexity and are meant for bottle aging.
Most of Ribera del Duero’s vineyards are +45 years old and bush vines – so they’re getting a lot of concentration. You’ll find three variations of soil: chalky, limestone and clay soils, which imparts vital characteristics on what you’ll find in the bottle over time. The region gets lots of sunlight and little rainfall and holds some of the highest vineyard elevation in Spain.
Alexander’s Key Takeaway: Ribera’s wines are balanced and well-integrated, with lively fruit. The elegant power and the structure of the region’s wines are a natural continuation of many of the classic styles of California, but after a while you’re looking for more elegance and depth and complexity, and that’s what you’re getting from Ribera. It’s also such a great value comparatively. It’s world-class vineyard. The amount of chalky soil and slopes and exposures, it’s incredible there’s still land that has not been planted vineyards.
If you missed the sessions, watch the full video recordings below. If you’d like to taste along with Alexander, grab your wines at Wine.com with a 10% off code using RiberaRueda.
There’s something timeless and untouched about the culture and climate of Castilla y León, where the winemakers of Ribera del Duero have produced bold red wines of incredible depth and structure. Today, Tempranillo is a growing in popularity, though many still are unaware how this grape can transform through diverse and varied styles and soils – from rich, cellar-worthy selections to refreshing and easy-drinking wines perfect for the backbar or dinner parties, making it the perfect go-to wine for year-round enjoyment.
In the video below, join Brooklyn’s own Master Sommelier Alexander LaPratt to learn more about the robust and elegant Tempranillo wines of Ribera del Duero. During the 45-minute session, you’ll discover the versatility of Ribera del Duero Tempranilloandhow to leverage its best qualitiesto sell these robust reds throughout the year. If you’d like to taste along with Alexander, grab your wines at Wine.com with a 10% off code using RiberaRueda.
Alexander’s Key Takeaway: “The power and the structure of Ribera is a natural continuation of many of the classic styles of California, but after a while you’re looking for more elegance and depth and complexity, and that’s what you’re getting from Ribera. It’s also such a great value comparatively,” he explains. “It’s world-class vineyard land. The amount of chalky soil and slopes and exposures, it’s incredible there’s that much land left without vineyards.”
Master Somm Seminar on Spain’s #1 White Wine: From “Best Kept Secret” to “Next Big Thing”
Hidden in the high plains of Castilla y León in Northern Spain, the region of Rueda boasts harsh conditions in which the indigenous Verdejo varietal thrives. Resulting in bright and balanced wines, Rueda Verdejos reflect an ancient tradition and a pure sense of place yet have a timeless appeal that knows no borders. Lush and smooth, yet highly aromatic with refreshing acidity, we like to think of them as a step up from Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Grigio.
In the video below, join Brooklyn’s own Master Sommelier Alexander LaPratt to learn more about Verdejo wines of Rueda. During the 45-minute session, you’ll explore Rueda Verdejo’s diversity in styles, high price-to-quality ratio and the quality and authenticity that make these wines an easy sell by the glass or on the retail floor. If you’d like to taste along with Alexander, grab your wines at Wine.com with a 10% off code using RiberaRueda.
Alexander’s Key Takeaway: “Rueda, hands-down, is one of the best values in the white wine world for the minerality and the style. Many of them are like ‘Wow, this is great,’ and once you know the price, it’s a no-brainer. If I’m going to spend $12 on something, you might as well get a beautiful bottle of Rueda.”
Watch the video today and get to know Spain’s next big white wine trend!
Searching for an easy 101 to use when training staff or talking to customers about Ribera y Rueda? Look no further than Vinepair’s perfect go-to guide that houses all the essential facts about Spain’s top wine regions. Easy to work with and even easier to share and print – making it the ideal handout for your next training, upload to your website or place in your Spain section.
New classifications and D.O. rules establish a single back label for still white wines and introduce new varieties such as Viognier and Chardonnay. The Denomination of Origin will feature several new categories including “Gran Vino de Rueda.”
January 30, 2020 (NEW YORK) – The Denomination of Origin Rueda (D.O. Rueda), the top white wine region in Spain, has secured approval of a series of modifications to its classification and labeling regulations. The classification system establishes new categories and introduces new grape varieties to the D.O. These updates will be reflected in 2020 and first seen by consumers and trade in the 2019 vintage.
The new grape varieties offer winemakers more opportunities to make unique wines that help distinguish their product in the domestic and export markets. The traditional Verdejo varietal, which is native to the Rueda region, will remain its flagship grape, along with the continued prominence of the Sauvignon Blanc. The updated rules will now allow white wines to include:
Viognier: characterized by its floral bouquets
Chardonnay: easy to grow in Rueda and highly adaptable to its terroir and different weather conditions
The new classification system updates also include:
The merging of the former classifications “Rueda Verdejo,” “Rueda Sauvignon” and “Rueda.” Only one category will be in place for the 2019 still white wine vintage: RUEDA, still white wines will have a just a single back label.
A new category was created: “Gran vino de Rueda.” This category corresponds to wines made with grapes from vineyards over 30 years old, with a yield of less than 6,500 kg per hectare and a 65% processing ratio. These wines can start being produced in the 2020 production season and will carry a unique back label.
The concept of “Vino de Pueblo” emerges, that may show the municipality from which the grapes originate, provided that the percentage of grapes from that village is equal to or greater than 85%.
Sparkling wines may include the words “gran añada” (excellent harvest) when the production process, from pressing to disgorging, exceeds 36 months. This category must be labeled by harvest year.
A new style of wine is included: Rueda Pálido. A traditionally crafted wine in Rueda, it had disappeared from the D.O.’s wine classification system. Thus, the new category recovers a wine made by biological aging and stored in oak barrels for at least three years before being going to market.
D.O. Rueda is implementing the new classification system to open itself further to domestic and international markets and to respond to the new requirements of the Spanish accreditation body, the Entidad Nacional de Acreditación (ENAC).
“All these changes respond to our wineries’ desire to adapt to the market and consumer demands, both nationally and internationally. Now they have more possibilities to stand out in the market and more freedom in winemaking with the D.O. Rueda seal and guarantee of origin. It is also an opportunity for winegrowers to work with new varieties which, according to studies, have proven to adapt perfectly to our climate and soil,” stated Carmen San Martín, President of CRDO Rueda. “This process is the result of the Regulatory Council’s interest in surprising the market with value-added products, always championing the origin of wines and committing to the rigorous quality controls of the D.O. Rueda.”
D.O. Rueda was founded in 1980, the first D.O. in Castilla y Leon and is ranked as the top selling white wine region in the Spanish market, according to Nielsen. Situated on a high plateau with a continental climate, Rueda has long cold winters, short springs and hot summers, perfect for the Verdejo grape, the dominant varietal in the region. High elevations and gravelly stone soils allow the Verdejo to ripen by mid-September and develop deep aromas and flavors resulting in dry, fresh wines that are food-friendly and accessible.
With Spanish wines, the first name that typically comes to mind is Rioja and its long-aging reds. But Spain has over 100 classified wine regions, and white wine fans might be more interested in setting their sights a bit more southwest to Rueda. The area received its official Denomination of Origin status in 1980 and is best known for its native Verdejo—a versatile grape that produces dry, aromatic wines. But Rueda is far from a one-trick pony: The region is also known for its Sauvignon Blanc. And now, the D.O. is branching out even further, allowing more white grape varieties and changing their classification system to appeal to more drinkers.
The biggest change coming to the D.O. is that two popular white grape varieties are now approved for use: Viognier and Chardonnay. For the latter, D.O. Rueda points out that Chardonnay is “easy to grow in Rueda and highly adaptable to its terroir and different weather conditions.” (Though the regulatory council didn’t confirm this was a nod to climate change, they didn’t deny it either.) These grapes are already grown in smaller amounts in the region but previously weren’t allowed to carry the Rueda label. Now they are fair game, so long as the wines are still at least 50 percent Verdejo or Sauvignon Blanc. The D.O. explains that all of these rule tweaks are intended to “offer winemakers more opportunities to make unique wines that help distinguish their product in the domestic and export markets” and working with these popular grapes would seem like an easy way to achieve that goal.
Meanwhile, the other changes will be happening on the label, not in the glass. Whereas still white wines from the region previously had three classifications—“Rueda Verdejo,” “Rueda Sauvignon,” and “Rueda”—starting with the 2019 vintage, and hitting shelves this year, those will be merged into just one: “Rueda.” “The new classification system is meant to make Rueda wines simplified for consumers,” Arancha Zamácola Feijoó, head of marketing for the C.R.D.O. Rueda, told me via email.
But winemakers now have other distinctions they can use to differentiate their products. The idea of “Vino de Pueblo” will allow labels to “show the municipality from which the grapes originate, provided that the percentage of grapes from that village is equal to or greater than 85 percent.” And the new category “Gran vino de Rueda” can be used on wine “made with grapes from vineyards over 30 years old, with a yield of less than 6,500 kilograms per hectare and a 65 percent processing ratio.”
And though some classifications are being removed, an old one is returning: Rueda Palido. The D.O. explains, “A traditionally crafted wine in Rueda, it had disappeared from the D.O.’s wine classification system. Thus, the new category recovers a wine made by biological aging and stored in oak barrels for at least three years before being going to market.”
Lastly, sparkling wines may now include the words “gran añada” (translated to “excellent harvest”) for vintage wines that require at least 36 months for production.
“All these changes respond to our wineries’ desire to adapt… Now they have more possibilities to stand out in the market and more freedom in winemaking with the D.O. Rueda seal and guarantee of origin. It is also an opportunity for winegrowers to work with new varieties which, according to studies, have proven to adapt perfectly to our climate and soil,” Carmen San Martín, president of CRDO Rueda, said in the announcement. “This process is the result of the Regulatory Council’s interest in surprising the market with value-added products, always championing the origin of wines and committing to the rigorous quality controls of the D.O. Rueda.”
Trade Trip Q&A with Total Wine & More’s Rebecca Boyd
The D.O.s of Ribera del Duero and Rueda recently hosted Rebecca Boyd, who heads up the Spain category for Total Wine & More, on a deep dive trip into the appellations. During her tour, Rebecca enjoyed winery visits and tasted the best of Spain’s cuisine.
From UNESCO World Heritage sites to the most local delicacies, she also learned about the region’s rich culture, culinary heritage and winemaking history. Read on to learn about her favorite memories, key wine takeaways and how this trip might have changed her outlook on Ribera & Rueda wines.
Where do you work?
Total Wine & More
What do you do there? (title/responsibilities)
Wine Buyer for Spain and Portugal
In one word, how would you describe Ribera del Duero?
And another word describing Rueda?
From Mercado San Miguel to the historic Cava Baja street, the aqueducts to the Valladolid, which cultural activity did you enjoy the most?
Honestly, everything was truly amazing; there is just so much history everywhere you turn. One of my favorites was exploring the old underground wineries and caves, especially in Aranda de Duero.
What are the “must-do” activities you would recommend to someone visiting the wineries of Ribera y Rueda wines?
In Ribera del Duero, 100% exploring the old wineries, puts a whole new perspective on winemaking hundreds of years ago. Rueda—hands down—a night harvest! Though it is always a challenge to keep awake until late at night, it is worth it!
What was your most memorable food pairing during the trip?
White Asparagus (I am obsessed with this every time I go to Spain and can’t get enough when I am there) with a glass of crisp Rueda Verdejo. Tuna belly with fresh tomatoes and olive oil, so simple and yet so mouthwatering, with a Ribera Tempranillo.
What was your most surprising wine learning from your time spent tasting in Ribera y Rueda?
Rueda—the age-ability of some of the white wines out of this region. When I thought of a crisp, fruity white wine, I didn’t associate it with something that could be held onto and aged, but I quickly learned how amazing some of these higher acid whites could hold up to the test of time and still taste wonderful with the added age.
Ribera del Duero—how elegant the wines truly are. To me, Ribera had been a powerhouse; big wines, that paired beautifully with food. When I was there, I tasted so many wines that were approachable— beautiful yet still packed in flavor!
Has your outlook on the regions changed?
Yes, I love the more modern take on Ribera reds that the region is turning out, along with the quality levels that Rueda has to offer.
What are your top takeaways that you will bring home with you to Total Wine & More?
Rounding our Ribera del Duero section to reflect the elegance I tasted in the region. Exploring an aged Rueda to highlight the quality within the region.
D.O. RUEDA CONCLUDES GRAPE HARVEST WITH 113,720,966 KILOS OF GRAPE ELIGIBLE FOR RECEPTION
The excellent health of the grape and low rainfall during the harvest point to high-quality wines.
D.O. Rueda concluded the grape harvest with a total of 113,720,966 kilos of grape eligible for reception within the Designation of Origin. Of those, 99.13% are white grape. The native Verdejo variety accounted for 88.49% of the entire production, at 100,638,814 kilos.
The grape harvest began on August 27th with the Sauvignon Blanc variety, whose growing cycle is shorter than other varieties, and ripens earlier. On September 3rd, the harvesting of the Verdejo variety began, which was executed in accordance with ripeness indicators from each vineyard plot, seeking the best balance between strength and acidity.
“Despite the fact that this year there was a decrease in the harvest of 10% with respect to the previous campaign, we are very satisfied because this harvest features excellent grape health. There were no recorded phytosanitary problems with the vines, and thanks to the significant difference in temperature between day and night, the conditions in which the grapes were received by the wineries were optimum,” said Jesús Díez de Íscar, technical director of D.O. Rueda.
This year the grape harvest for D.O. Rueda had 1,581 grape producers and 67 wineries registered. In total, the registered area covered 18,020.59 hectares; an increase on 1,662.48 hectares with respect to last year. Of those, 97.57% (17,582.88 hectares) were white varieties, and of those, 87.71% were Verdejo.
“Thanks to the perfect health in which the grape has been harvested, balanced, high-quality wines are predicted for this 2019 harvest. When they come to market in a few months, we hope to surprise the consumer with the various products created from our native grape, the Verdejo. It is a variety which stands out for its versatility and allows our wineries and growers to opt for innovation, without losing support for traditional ways of working,” stated Carmen San Martín, president of D.O. Rueda.
Source: Regulatory Board of D.O. Rueda 983 868 248