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Old Vines, New Wines

August 29th, 2018

Five Growers to Watch in Ribera del Duero

 

On the so-called milla de oro (golden mile) of Ribera del Duero, along the Ruta Nacional 122 between Peñafiel and Quintanilla de Onésimo, you’ll find some of the region’s most important names: Vega Sicilia, Arzuaga, Matarromera, Alión and others that are directly responsible for the fame of Ribera.

La milla is the backbone of Valladolid, one of the four provinces that make up the Ribera appellation. It is where the economic development that wine has brought to the region is most visible. Large hotels, ambitious restaurants, ultra-modern wineries exhibiting their avant-garde architecture and vast new vineyards, perfectly maintained. If you have ever been a tourist in Ribera del Duero, surely you spent a good part of your trip in Valladolid.

However, if you leave the Ruta Nacional and enter the narrow, winding roads through the provinces of Burgos, Soria or Segovia, the picture changes drastically. Locals farm patches of old vines in small, peaceful medieval villages, their houses and churches made of limestone, the surrounding hills dotted with caves, where peasants used to make and store their wines, well protected from heat.

These are the towns where you’ll find a new generation of producers, all of them focused on tempranillo, the region’s beloved “tinto fino,” while many are also tending other varieties, often working with vines not allowed by the Consejo Regulador. I recently visited a number of growers and found five who are showing a completely new side of Ribera del Duero, with much lighter and fresher wines.

 

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