Sunrise over Ribera Del Duero.
Sean Millar of Pruno Wines explores two wineries at either end of the Duero River, which runs through north western Spain.
ONE OF MY FAVOURITE WINE making regions is the Ribera del Duero, located in Spain’s Northern plateau of the Iberian peninsula. I have made several trips to the region over the years and Bodegas Viyuela, which can be found just outside the lovely town of Boada de Roa, always stands out as a very special winery.
Bodegas Viyuela is run by one of the oldest known families in the area with Andres Gonzales continuing the Viyuela wine making tradition, alongside his daughter, Laura, and the very talented winemaker, Marta Ramos. All the wines from Viyuela are made from 100% Tempranillo and have had time in oak barrels.
Last year, the winery won the coveted ‘Best Estate’ award for Ribera del Duero. The first reference of wine making in Ribera del Duero dates back 2,500 years and to this day, the area is still recognised as one of the top wine producing regions in Spain.
As the name suggests, the Duero River runs through the region before it eventually flows across to Portugal and into Porto.
Wines produced in the Ribera del Duero derive almost exclusively from red grapes with the vast majority of production dedicated to Tinto Fino, the local name for Tempranillo. The Ribera del Duero has moderate to low rainfall, however, long dry summers with temperatures of up to 40°C are followed by hard winters when temperatures often come close to freezing.
Further north west, along the Duero River heading towards Portugal, is the Toro wine making region. Toro is located in the Spanish province of Zamora in Castilla y Leon.
One of the most impressive wineries in Toro is the ultra modern Valbusenda, which is a real wine lovers’ paradise with its beautiful vineyards and stunning hotel. Nestled along the Duero River, the Valbusenda winery produces some spectacular red, white and rosé wines with the main grape varieties being Tinto de Toro (Tempranillo) and Garnacha for the reds and rosé.
Valbusenda’s white wines are mainly produced from the popular Verdejo grape but some are also made from Malvasia.
Here’s my six picks from the two wineries:
VALBUSENDA ABIOS VERDEJO
This wine is 100% Verdejo and spends around five months in oak barrels, which gives it a powerful and aromatic nose with tropical fruit aromas of grapefruit and pineapple.
It also has an amazing soft sweet ‘attack’ on the palate, allowing a long lingering finish. A great wine to sip with a plate of grilled king prawns.
VALBUSENDA ABIOS NUDE ROSÉ
A simply stunning rosé, made from Tinto de Toro. Although Spain does produce quite a lot of rosé wine, some would argue that the only place for rosé is Provence in France but I disagree.
This wine is a beautiful strawberry red colour, incredibly fresh, yet full on the palate with a tiny hint of fizz to finish.
The red wines from Toro are renowned for their intensity and full flavour and this one is no exception. Lovely, big and mature with gamey notes alongside the dense prune and red berry fruit.
An intensely powerful wine, this is ideally suited to sharing with friends over a roast beef Sunday lunch.
Four months in French oak leaves this wine with an aromatic intensity and notes of wild berries with sweet tannins of mature ripe grape.
As a Viyuela entry level wine, Barrica represents amazing value. If I was to pair this wine with food, it would undoubtedly be a plate of soft cheese.
An excellent, imposing wine, which manages to maintain its elegance. The Crianza is aged in oak for considerably longer than the Barrica, 16 months in total.
Bright red in colour with blackberries and ripe fruit, rounded off with a hint of spice. Intense and full bodied, yet soft all round tannins, make this a very easy drinking red.
The vineyard’s flagship wine, aged for a minimum of two years in oak barrels. This spectacular wine was recently awarded an impressive 93 points from the highly regarded wine critic, Tim Atkin.
This wine features a powerful aromatic intensity with hints of candied fruit and toasty aromas. It also has beautifully balanced flavours of spicy, savoury and sweet.