The best Spanish vineyards are sited at heights of between 2,460 and 2,952 feet (750 and 900 metres) which is somewhat high both for Spain and elsewhere in Europe. The remainder of the wine-growing is sited in the valleys and at the foot of the hills.
The soil consists of chalk-bearing strata with alluvial covering close to the river, calciferous clay at the foot of the hills, and gypsum, and chalk that is rich in trace elements in the more elevated vineyards. The climate is a mixture of severe continental and moderating maritime influences. The difference between the heat of the day and cooler evenings is very important for wine-making for this causes optimum growth.
This is important in view of the height of the best vineyards, for the summers are consequently of short duration and frosts at night in autumn are not unusual. Late blossoming of the vines or retarded growth can have dire consequences. The varieties grown in addition to the classic Tinto del Pais (Tempranillo, and also known as Tinto Fino), are Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Merlot, and Gamacha. Although the bulk of Ribera del Duero wine is red, some excellent rosé Spanish wines are also produced.
Ribera del Duero rosados are mainly made from Garnacha (sometimes called Tinto Aragonés ), sometimes softened with a little white Albillo. The ordinary vinos jovenes are very pleasing rosados, which should be drunk when young. The Crianza Rosado Spanish wines are cask aged and are hence more full-bodied and mature. Drinking temperature for Crianza Rosado Spanish wine at 50-53.6°F (10-12°C).
The ordinary vinos jovenes reds should also be drunk young. These are fresh, fruity wines redolent of blackberry. You can drink this red Spanish wine at 53.6-57.2°F (12-14°C).
The Crianza is aged for at least 12 months in oak casks and is stronger in taste. It may not be sold before three years old. This Spanish wine is still very fruity, broad, and elegant. If you’ll like to drink this Reservas Spanish wine it’s recommanded to drink at 57.2°F (14°C).
The powerful Reservas are aged for at least one year in oak barricas and then been bottled for at least a further year. Drinking temperature for this Spanish wine 57.2- 60.8°F (14- 16°C).
The Gran Reservas are the best wines, but these are laid down by few people, not just because of their high price but also because this Spanish wine is made in small volume and most finds its way to the Royal and governmental tables, plus some of the best restaurants. Do not hesitate if you get the chance to buy a Gran Reserva of Ribera del Duero. If you do not the bottle will quickly be sold to someone else. Serve this Spanish wine at 62.6°F (17°C).