Good news for Ribera del Duero: the D.O allows Albillo white wines
The first whites made with Albillo Mayor (also known in the area as Blanca del País or Albillo) with the label of the Denomination of Origin Ribera del Duero will be from the vintage 2019, while until now the wineries were forced to identify them as “table wines” or as Wine from the Land of Castilla y León, as the Regulatory Council based in Roa (Burgos) did not admit this grape as the main variety, with the same range as Tempranillo (Tinto Fino or Tinta del País).
The BOE (Official State Gazette) has published on July 27th 2019 the resolution regarding the modification requested by the Regulatory Council of the DO Ribera del Duero. If no opposition statement is presented within two months, the Albillo grape will be included as the main white variety, which will allow the production of wines with a presence of at least 75% of this variety, along with other white grapes present in the area, and monovarietal (100% Albillo).
It has been a claim of years by the producers. Large wineries and winemakers from the Ribera del Duero produce already white wines made from the Albillo grapes on the market but they could not sell them with the Regulatory Council labels. The DO has based its request on the fact that, historically, the Albillo variety has always been part of the tradition and winemaking of the area, both in minimum proportions to provide freshness to the reds and also in the production of rosés or clarets, along with others red and white varieties.
The experience in the production of white wines in the area, especially over the past 20 years, with the native variety Albillo Mayor has reached sufficient maturity to transform these elaborations into a product protected by the DO Ribera of the Duero. It is estimated that there are about thirty wineries in the region that already make white wines with the Albillo varietal, wines that have found great acceptance in the market, although for the moment they are small productions and their price is not low. With this new measure, the native wine heritage is preserved.
The Albillo Mayor is very versatile and gives rise to very aromatic wines with marked fruit and / or vegetable notes, with a good palate and a balanced acidity. Until now it was used mainly to bring freshness to the reds and produce rosés along with other types of red and white grapes from the Ribera del Duero.
The specifications establish that «the elaboration of the protected wines will be carried out with grapes of the Tempranillo varieties (and their synonyms admitted Tinto Fino or Tinta del País), Cabernet Sauvignon, Garnacha Tinta, Malbec, Merlot and Albillo Mayor». But only Tempranillo for the production of red wines and the Albillo Mayor for whites are considered the main ones. The percentage of Tempranillo grapes in these wines cannot be less than 75%, the same minimum proportion that will be required in the case of Albillo whites. Apart from this, the use, in small proportions, of other native varieties will be admitted.
In addition, the Regulatory Council of Ribera del Duero has included the synonym “clarete” for the definition of rosé wines. Its use was already authorized, but it was not reflected in the specifications. Wineries can now choose to write rosé or claret on their labels right now.