The ancient, arid and beautiful region of Castilla y Leon is the largest in Spain, and amongst the largest single 'regions' in any country of Europe. It has been famed throughout the centuries for its architecture, its people, its art and literature, and not least for its characterful and flavorful wines, which capture the beating heart and passion of Spain and Spanish culture. Castilla y Leon is essentially a vast plateau, and is extremely dry, with a poor soil structure which one might think would make viticulture difficult, if not impossible. However, Castilla y Leon has plenty of native grape varietals which are able to stretch their roots deep underground, to tap into the moisture and minerals which can be found there.
Some experts claim that centrally-located Ribera del Duero, Spain's fastest growing wine region, has the greatest potential for memorable red wines. These are largely inspired by the revered Vega Sicilia, an estate producer whose dark Tempranillo wines are balanced with 20% Cabernet Sauvignon. For one hundred years Vega Sicilia has taken Spanish tradition to the extreme, growing highly concentrated grapes and aging wines ten years in cask and sometimes more in bottle before releasing exquisite, expensive wines that still benefit from cellar aging. Like slightly smaller versions of Vega Sicilia, other Ribera del Duero Tempranillos are tannic and long-lived, usually inky and massive, with complicated aromas of chocolate, plums and smoke. French varietals Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Malbec are joining the native varietals. White Ribera del Duero uses the indigenous varietal Albillo.