Ribera del Duero
Ribera del Duero is one of 69 DOs (Denominacion de Origen) in Spain; this production zone is situated in the north central section of the country, with Leon and Burgos being the main cities. The red wines of Ribera del Duero (named for the local Duero River) have received great acclaim over the past thirty years, with critics extolling the virtues of the richness and aging potential of these wines.

The principal variety is the local grape Tempranillo (also known as Tinta del Pais or Tinto Fino); this accounts for 90% of the plantings. Other varieties used in a Ribera del Duero include Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Most vineyards are situated between 1000 and 2300 feet above sea level; this means limited yields, as well as less direct sun exposure, which preserves acidity for structure.

Only barriques of 225 liters (or less) are allowed for aging. A crianza version of Ribera del Duero must be aged for a minimum of one year in oak, while for a riserva, minimum aging is three years, with one year in cask. Finally for a Gran Riserva, minimum aging is two years in oak casks and three years in the bottle. The riserva bottlings are the highest quality and longest-lived versions of this wine; some of these offerings drink well after two to three decades. Acidity is quite good and tannins, while rich and not overpowering. Thanks to reviews in the mid-to high 90s for the best examples, expect to pay between $50 to $250 a bottle. (Wine/Appellations)