When thinking of grapes, viticulture and winemaking, you might be tempted to think of a temperate, moderate climate. Maybe add a lot of sun, not too much rain, and a mild winter. Throw in a cool summer breeze or a Mediterranean-style climate, and you've got the vast majority of winemaking regions covered. Ribera del Duero, however, doesn't follow such a pattern.
The Ribera del Duero wine region, rather, is all about extremes. How extreme? Think of sweltering summers topping 100 degrees Fahrenheit (40 degrees Celsius) and lengthy winters that dip into the negatives -- 0 degrees and below Fahrenheit (-18 degrees Celsius) [source: Ribera del Duero]. These extremes lead to shorter growing seasons, but Ribera del Duero growers somehow make the most of it. Some believe, in fact, that these extreme climates help the Tinto Fino, Ribera del Duero's predominant grape, keep its acidity better than its counterpart from other Spanish areas, the Tempranillo [source: CIV USA]. Of course, amid the extremes, Ribera del Duero does benefit from little rainfall and a good amount of sunshine.
This river valley, located in central Spain north of Madrid, has loose, sedimentary soil, giving it a fertile base. Certain areas do include limestone, marl, chalk and iron within the soil as well. And, the closer you get to the river, the more clay content you'll find in the soil beneath your feet [source: Ribera del Duero].
Read on to discover the wines that are behind the success of the Ribera del Duero wine region.