Subscriber login Close [x]
remember me
You are not logged in.

Ribera del Duero well positioned to lead on terroir classification in Spain

Published:  28 January, 2022

During an online tasting of the wines of Ribera del Duero held yesterday (27 January), Harpers columnist Tim Atkin MW suggested that the appellation had the potential to embrace a formal terroir classification, as there are fewer ‘political’ barriers than in other Dos.

“I actually think Ribera del Duero will reach this goal before Rioja," said Atkin MW.

“Rioja's single-vineyard project was well intentioned, but the rules that estates must have a physical presence (winery premises, etc) in the terroir is counter-productive – it means that bodegas can own vineyards in exceptional sites, but not register them under the scheme. It has stymied certain growers.

“However, Ribera del Duero's Consejo Regulador is more dynamic and open to terroir classification than other DOs in Spain, which may have too many vested interests. The region has the basis of a soil map to build on, and unlike Rioja, has the buy-in of its producers. The region has a bright future ahead.”

According to Atkin, there are an enormous variety of soil types in the Ribera DO, ranging from “blindingly white limestone” to clay, loam, sand and alluvial soils.

He added that the winemaking paradigm had shifted gear in recent years, “with an emphasis on less extraction and managing alcohol levels better,” leading to fresher, brighter and lighter wines.

Following a recent visit to the zone, Atkin tasted his way through more 530 different wines, awarding every wine in his Top 100 Selection 94 points or more.

Meanwhile, terroir classification remains a hot topic in Spain in the 21st century.

As reported by Harpers, both Priorat and Bierzo have shown a willingness to create a hierarchical ranking of their vineyards.

Priorat now has a clearly defined quality pyramid that would make any Burgundian proud. At the base sits the Vi de Vila (village wine) tier, followed by Vi de Finca (estate wine), Vinya Classificada and Gran Vinya Classificada respectively.