Visiting Bodega Arribes del Duero   
Lovely old vineyards on the border of Spain and Portugal, in the lesser-known Arribes DO


Arribes is at the western fringe of Spain, abutting the Duero/Douro river and the Portuguese border. Formerly known as Arribes del Duero, this wine region recently changed names to avoid confusion with the better known Ribera del Duero. It’s relatively small, with 750 hectares of vines altogether, and is at altitude (c. 500–800 m). Most of the vines here are pretty old bush vines, and the soils are quite poor with lots of sand and granite.

For reds, Rufete is the main variety, with support from Juan García, Bastardillo Chica and Bruñal (these are the main ones; a few others are also allowed). Whites are made from Malvasia and Verdejo. The Bodega Arribes del Duero is one of the two cooperatives in the area. Each has around 70 members each, and the plan is that soon both will be merged. 

I spent some time looking at old vineyards with their beautiful old vines. There’s something very attractive about the gnarled old trunks, which are cut back so that each has several short two or three bud spurs left on them. Above you can see the bush vines before pruning, and below this what they look like after pruning. After this, we had a look at the international Douro/Duero, where the river forms the border between Portugal and Spain.

These old vines certainly deliver lovely fruit. Where this isn’t obscured by too much oak, the wines are really lovely.


Arribes de Vettonia Blanco 2008
Malvasia. Very fresh, taut, mineralic nose with bright citrussy notes and some fresh grapiness. The palate shows lively grape, herb and citrus fruit notes. Bright and fresh with good acid and some pithiness. 87/100

Arribes de Vettonia Blanco 2009
Very fresh, bright and aromatic with lovely grapey aromatics. Quite floral. Bright and fruity with citrus notes, a bit of grapiness and nice freshness. 88/100

Arribes Rosé 2009 (this is also bottled as ‘Spanish Steps Rosé’, imported into the UK by Oakley Wine Agencies)
Bright pink/red colour. Fruity and persistent with cherry and herb notes, as well as some savoury, plummy bitterness. Fresh and quite savoury, this could do with a tiny hint of sweetness to round it out. 83/100

Arribes de Vettonia Crianza 2006
80% Juan García, 20% Rufete. Sweet, spicy, oaky edge to the bright berryish fruit. Ripe and quite sweet: a seductive style with distinctive spiciness. Fresh with cherries, plums and berry fruits, but with some oak showing. 88/100

Arribes de Vettonia Crianza 2007
Lovely sweet cherry and berry fruit nose. The palate is fresh and juicy with nice sweet berry fruits. Lovely freshness and purity to this nicely proportioned wine. Well integrated oak. 88/100

Hechanza Real Crianza 2004
Sweet nose showing coconut and vanilla. The palate shows oak influence as well as fresh berry fruits. An older-styled Spanish red with strong oak influence. 85/100

Arribes Reserva 2004
Varietal Juan Garcia. Sweet aromatic cherry and berry fruit nose with a herbal, balsamic, coconut edge. The palate is fresh and savoury with some spicy notes alongside the bright plummy fruit. Beginning to evolve with some oak imprint and a drying finish. 86/100

Bruñal 2009 barrel sample
Very bright, focused and cherryish with lovely supple fruit and berry freshness. Really quite elegant with good acidity and structure. Juicy and fresh. 89–91/100

El Secreto del Vetton Bruñal 2006
Lovely vibrant aromatic sweet cherry and plum fruit nose with some herb and spice notes. The palate is rich, warm and spicy with plummy fruit and notes of tar. Good tannic structure under the fruit. This is a really interesting, concentrated, dense, tannic wine with bright berryish fruit. 93/100

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Photographs from Arribes, Spain

Wines tasted as 03/10  
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