Sobre ti van los hombres y los cielos
contigo, peregrina, va Castilla
contigo van los surcos y los vuelos (…)
Over you go the men and the skies
With you, pilgrim, goes Castilla
With you go the furrows and the flights
José García Nieto, ‘A orillas del Duero’, 1955
As one of Rioja’s most respected names, the Ontañón Family has long fostered innovation through a deep understanding of history and tradition. Respect for the ancestral knowledge of local growers, alongside modern technical expertise, have long steered the quality and style that made Ontañón the household name it is today. The producer has now taken its philosophy from the valleys of the Ebro to the shores of the Duero river, with a new project, Rippa Dorii (Latin for the shores of the Duero) at the crossroads of viticultural and poetic exploration.
Rippa Dorii reinterprets the Duero river as a foundational and symbolic axis which has, through millennia, shaped the landscape, people and wines of Castilla. Much more than a watercourse, the Duero defines a natural narrative along which the history and stories of those who live along its banks have built their identities and mythologies. The river serves as a record of the farming and viticultural heritage, dating back to the Middle Ages, considered one of the world’s most fascinating, ever-evolving in the wealth of its diversity and in the passion of those who carry it through the generations.
A poetic statement
The project borrows inspiration, and its name, from José García Nieto’s poem ‘A orillas del Duero’ (on the banks of the Duero, i.e. Rippa Dorii), part of the book ‘Geografía es Amor’ (Geography is Love) published in 1955, in which the author dedicates a poetic record of his most loved Spanish landscapes to his son.
García Nieto’s poem expresses Duero’s ancestral role as the symbol of a territory defined by the work and dreams of its farmers. Castilla is a land of wines shaped by men, land and skies, with the waters of the Duero as source of life and identity. Both a geological force that defines terroirs and a quasi spiritual presence, the river is the core of Castilla’s soul, essential to the wines it gives birth to.
Red soul – the fine side of Tempranillo
In Fuentecén, Ribera del Duero, Rippa Dorii produces its red wines – elegant expressions of Tempranillo planted at high altitude, with fruit concentration balanced by fresh tannins and vibrant acidity. The extreme continental climate, with relentless winters and scorching summers, plays a key role in the aromatic complexity of the fruit, especially in the prized old bush-trained vines of the Salomón, San Torcaz, El Roble and La Peña plots.
The winemaking approach is focused on elegance, detail and nuance, and seeks a pure expression of the different terroirs and forgotten landscapes. Two wines – Roble and Crianza – offer complementary interpretations of the essence of Ribera del Duero through a mindful use of different types of oak and ageing regimes.
White soul – full expressions of Verdejo
The white wines of Castilla have its most vivid expression in Rueda and its flagship variety, Verdejo. Rippa Dorii explores Verdejo’s multiple facets, expressed in the different aromatic and textural profiles defined by each microterroir and soil, from the richer alluvial clay-rich terraces to the leaner limestone outcrops. The fruit is brought to the winery after night harvest so that freshness is naturally preserved, and is allowed to ferment spontaneously, with the indigenous yeast being itself understood as an expression of terroir. Clarification is done by gravity as part of a gentle winemaking approach focused on the preservation of the full spectrum of aromas and texture Verdejo can deliver if allowed to. The result are two wines – Verdejo and Verdejo Organic – that balance approachability with density, breadth and length.
Geografías – mapping a region’s soul
Evoking García Nieto’s book, Rippa Dorii’s flagship bottles are labelled as the Geografías collection; single-vineyard wines that celebrate the project’s most iconic plots and their distinctive character in each vintage. Through a subtle, patient and careful look at each plot, the resulting wines trace the essence of a place in time. So far, the collection includes one white and one red: Los Curas (DO Rueda) y Salomón (DO Ribera del Duero). The key to understanding these wines is in the etymology of the word geography itself: the description (‘graphia’) of earth (‘Geo’).
This is the ultimate aim of the Rippa Dorii project: to observe, describe, and fall in love with unique, forgotten landscapes. And then share them with the world in moments of simple, perfect contentment.