Time of anniversary and launch
at Castro Ventosa Winery
In the middle of the region of Bierzo (León) in northwestern Spain, it is located the small village of Valtuille de Abajo, surrounded by some of the best vineyards in the appellation. Dominates the area, a hill on which is settled the ancient town of pre-Roman origin, Castro Ventosa or Castro Bergidum, from where you can enjoy of some of the best views of the region. At the foot of the hill is set the family winery of the same name, Castro Ventosa, and there also, one of the most acclaimed winemakers today, Raúl Pérez. He held a double celebration; on one hand the 25th anniversary of the label Castro Ventosa, and moreover, the inauguration of the new installations of the winery's Biscayne, (La Vízcaina) his personal stake in his hometown. At the
same time, he also offered a new wine made jointly by his nephews, Valtuille Godello, a white wine that was missing in their production of Bierzo.
It happened on Friday, July 25, and I have to admit that even in my best dreams expected such celebration. We spent there arround 7 unforgettable hours, an authentic claim of well made wine, which value begins by taking care of the vineyard, and
where the traditional growing acquires prominence. That is the Atlantic character that Raúl gives to his wines, and what they are real seeking is to express their own feelings of the place where these wines were born.
There were a large amount of wine-loving people from various corners of both Spain and other countries like the U.S. and Portugal. We were attending a party full of surprises, and especially of fine wines. I would say that dozens of wines from the Rhine, Burgundy, Italy, Portugal were offered ... From the champagne of André Clouet, through the entire range of wines from Castro Ventosa winery (nine in all, Airola,
Valtuille, Castro Ventosa ...) , even some of the most renowned wines by Raul (Ultreia), as well as some of the wines made by his best friends.
Among those present, many winemakers and producers. We could even sip those of
some of these winegrowers that are or were producing wines with Raul
Perez. We were able to enjoy the wines of Fernando González, from Algueira (Ribeira Sacra); Pedro Rodríguez, Guímaro (Ribeira Sacra); Rodrigo Méndez, Forjas do Salnes (DO Rias Baixas); Jose Antonio Garcia Vicultor, (Bierzo); Bodegas Margon, Pricum
(DO Tierra de Leon) ...
The party was also plenty of good typical products from the region, home-made food, like octopus or tuna pie, so typical from Bierzo and Galicia. Music was another clue to the success of the event, and not only live music, but also by DJs factor, all in a spectacular setting. And, if the god Bacchus would exist, would be called Raúl Pérez, and would have their particular heaven in Valtuille de Abajo.
Bodega Castro Ventosa
Finca El Barredo s/n
24530, Valtuille de Abajo-León- Spain
Tf. 00 34 987 562 148
Finca El Barredo s/n
Amigo: Wines with no limit
His name is Miguel Angel, and just at the age of 19 years old, he produced his first wine. He and his brother Javier, they both run the small family winery located in Parandones (Bierzo, León, Spain), which gradually is becoming a place among the great wineries; as great as their wines are. Among the range of wines they produce, the starting point is a no pretentious wine called “Viñademoya”, a young red Mencia grape of spectacular aromas, growing in vines over 60 years old ; a wine with an impressive relation price for value; “Baloiro”, a red wine aged in barrel; and a pretty interesting white wine “Baloiro Godello”, (produced from their godello grape vines). To end with, “Leiros”, which is an absolutelly magnificient wine, an author brand.
The point is, when you taste a wine aged in barrel for 42 months, and you find a perfect balance among aroma, color and flavor; a wine plenty of youth and energy, it is because there is a great winemaker behind. And that is what happens with the wines of Miguel Angel, on the way he produces their wines, he reaches the limits of the rational. The acidity provided to its wines, where wood and fruit are perfectly integrated, they give as result some of the most amazing wines I have ever tried.
On our visit to the vineyard we could see the love of taking care of their vines, some of them over 100 years old. The state is divided in “Leiros”, small plots throughout “El Bierzo”, planted on slaty and clay soil on slopes over 25%. Following traditional means, such as manual harvest, the cellar produces Mencia red wines, white wines from Godello and Doña Blanca. Here comes their bets: White Baloiro, Baloiro Godello, Baloiro Crianza, Reserva Baloiro, Viñademoya and Leiros are their trademarks.
Wines made to age, as Miguel Angel suggests. Their wines are thought to evolve and improve in the bottle, since for its winemaker that is the premise upon which is based a good wine.
Bodega Luzdivina Amigo
Ctra Villafranca, 10
24516, Parandones-León- Spain
Tf. 00 34 987 544 826
Ctra Villafranca, 10
Guímaro: Rebel and Nonconformist
When you meet Pedro at first in his winery, which attracts attention is what a warm and friendly he is, as well as his simplicity and generosity. Since the first moment conveys his enthusiasm for making wine, and for the innovation. He started in the world of law, but fortunately for wine lovers, twisted his career (as he says) .
In the beginning, he landed in New York in 1993, carrying wine in his suitcase for its promotion , an adventure, a dare . "Let the wine talks". As simple as that. And it seems that it did, the wine talked, and it was a succeed. Today the New York Times devotes articles and in Wine Advocate praise him.
In collaboration with the famous winemaker Raúl Pérez, Pedro has positioned Guímaro in the pantheon of wines, in just a few years. A small winery family tradition that has seen their creations appear on top national and international rankings, and are among the most acclaimed by international critics.
Burgundy is Pedro´s referent, as it is for Raúl; and they both prefer the traditional way of processing the wine, where respect for the environment is a priority, avoiding using sulfur and herbicides. Cheek and imagination are its strengths.
Guímaro is a winery located in the Ribeira Sacra (subzone Amandi, Galicia, Northwest Spain), where has its own vineyards at an angle of between 50 and he 70%. They are producing some of the finest wines from Spain, always betting by local varieties such as Merenzao , Caiño , Sousón , Mencia, Loureiro , Godello , Treixadura , Albariño, etc. From small plots linked to the concept of " terroir" ( Meixeman, Capeliños, Pombeira ... ) they get spectacular wines that are a true reflection of the land of their birth. United States, Japan, Germany, UK , Switzerland, Scandinavia and even France itself, all of them are importing Guimaro´s wines. Their current production is around 50,000 bottles per year.
Such is the care with which their wines are made, that there are some wine which is not pressed but stomping, as it was done in the past. Pedro prefers the quiet instead of the movement, hence "move the wine just enough", even for that process known as " batonage " when fermentation on lees is having place. Their wines have fully achieved the balance between fruit, acidity and barrel. Another issue is to pay special attention to the acidity, in order to keep it in high levels, but balanced, because it will be one of the keys that help evolve well the wine in the bottle. The concept of aging is a function of how the wine evolves, and the type and age of the oak barrel; hence, in wines that have rested in barrel is present , but not too much.
Red wines like Guímaro Young made from Mencía grape ( 85%) and other varieties, Finca Meixemán ( Mencía ) Finca Capeliños ( 85 % Mencia , Caíño , Sousón , Negreda Mouratón and others), Guímaro Finca Pombeira ( 85 % Mencia and others) All they have become prized and sought after wines. Furthermore it must be added the common projects with Raúl Pérez, the result of which are the mythic and acclaimed Sin Pecado, and La Penitencia; and another great creation, Ladredo, a wine from a vineyard of the same name, made from Garnacha and Mencia, which is a collaboration with Portuguese winemaker Dirk van der Niepoort, the wizard of Porto Wine.
In white wines, Godello Blanco Guimaro is a varietal on the lees, or Guímaro Godello a barrel fermented wine, are the most representative of the winery. In the near future it is anticipated the release of organic wines.
A luxury knowing firsthand Pedro Rodríguez, the winemaker who has managed to promote and make Guímaro as a referent winery, an author´s creation, a reference for all fans of the wine world.
Guímaro. Pedro Rodríguez Pérez
Sanmil, 43- Santa Cruz de Bosmos
27425, Sober-Lugo- Spain
Tf. 00 34 982 152 508
Sanmil, 43- Santa Cruz de Bosmos
Sheila becomes for the occasion in our guide for Cuatro Pasos domains, the wine of the four bear tracks on the label. For those who do not know, El Bierzo is a land where the bear can live, and hence its presence in the design of the brand.
The winery, part of the group Martin Códax, was born in 2003, and settles in an old palatial home of the XVIII century, which was already used much earlier for winemaking. Thus it becomes in one of the oldest wineries and more attractive within El Bierzo. It is located in the "Camino de Santiago", in the center of the village of Cacabelos, wine capital of the region. The winery offers tours through its spacious rooms made of stone and wood ceilings, in which the old concrete tanks have been transformed in rooms barrels for aging their wines.
Its vineyards extend for four different areas of El Bierzo: Otero, Hornija , Corullón and Valtuille; always they have been looking for slate soils and old vines, some over 80 years old and located on steep slopes, such asCorullón, where contemplated magnificent views of the Valley.
Nowdays the winery produces four different wines, all 100 %Menciagrape: If we talk about red wine we haveCuatro Pasos, authentic hallmark of the brand, Martín Sarmiento,Pizarras de Otero. While recently also produces a rosé wine called Cuatro Pasos Rosado.
Cuatro Pasos offers the verve of a young Mencia, therefore mineral wine with a deep color and red fruit aromas. We can appreciate its toasted wood aroma, and a very balanced acidity at the same time. Meats, oily fish are ideal for pairing with this wine . Martín Sarmiento brings greater intensity in color, intense morello cherry red, and varietal aromas, as well as forest fruit, smoky and toasted oak aging, and minerals. The palate is broad, a well-balanced wine ideal to drink accompanied by a quiet and good food. Pizarras de Otero is a young Mencia that have not been barrel aged; it brings us violet tones and fruity nose (plum , cherry ... ) while floral . It is fresh with a crispy finish, and it could be perfectly tasted as an aperitive paired with “tapas”.
Cuatro Pasos Rosadois a surprise for the senses. Visually it has a bright raspberry color, and it offers a deep fruity aromas that immerse us in strawberry and raspberry, although slight floral notes of roses at the same time. The taste is fruity and easy to drink. Ideal for warm periods and for a multitude of dishes ranging from pasta, rice, salads , white meat ...
If you travel arround El Bierzo is a winery worth visiting, and once there you can try their wines that will not leave you indifferent. Both Sheila and other members of staff will take care that your visit will mark a before and after in the Bierzo wine, whereas we can see our knowledge enhanced.
C/ Santa María, 43
25540, Cacabelos,-León- Spain
Tf. 00 34 987 54 80 89
Alberto García, the owner and " alma mater " of the winery, led our visit to what will be an interesting journey through the history of Ribeiro wine region. Valdavia is the oldest winery in the area, and probably one of the oldest in Spain and Europe. Its history dates back to the twelfth century, when its vineyards were linked to the monastery of San Clodius. Most of the medieval monasteries of the Iberian Peninsula became guardians of the Roman tradition of producing wine.
Valdavia is located in the small village of Cuñas (Ourense, Spain), in the heart of Ribeiro. Since 2004, this family winery has been settling in such a competitive market as that of quality wine market. Its project is based on a committed team, as well as that provides by wines coming from an excellent " terroir" ; and furthermore, the adoption of a form of agriculture that respects the environment, biodynamic agriculture.
In its two hectares of vineyards both white and red wines are produced. Indigenous grapes such as Treixadura or Albariñofor white wines; while Mencia or Brancellao,grapes are used to make red wine.
In addition to its vineyards, you can visit two buildings built of stone, the cellar and the winery, this last one has become tasting room, where you can taste some of their wines.
Valdaviaproduces white wines like Cuñas Davia, made of Treixaduragrapes 70 % , Albariño, and others (Godello and Lado). The fruitiness that bring the two predominant grapes is very present, and also floral tones, and the aromas of the flora of the area. The result is a wine of very balanced acidity, persistent, very fresh, easy to be drunk.Cuñas Davia Barrica, made exclusively with grapesTreixadura80% Albariño20%, which resulting in a more complex and elegant wine. To the fruity aromas of the grapes, it must be added that what gives the oak and aging on lees. Vanilla, toast, ripe, round out an elegant, aromatic and persistent wine in the mouth, very fruity in the beginning and dry in the end.
Cuñas Davia Tinto is a varietal that merges Mencia grape 40% , Brancellao 30% , Sousón 15 %, and Caíño 15%. The result is a very personal wine, aged in French oak barrels from 6 to 8 months. Red garnet, it has aromas of forest fruits as raspberry and blackberry; cocoa and candied fruits also predominate. The fruit stands out from the wood, what is common in wines of the area, marked acidity is balanced by the fruit and the wood , resulting in a rich and silky wine.
Adegas Valdavia, S.L.
32454 Ourense- Spain
Tf. 00 34 669 89 26 81
Losada Vinos de Finca
In the heart of “el Bierzo” (León , NW Spain ) the winery " Losada Vinos de Finca " is located, which is could be considered as one of the cellars on the vanguard of architecture (of certainly innovative ways) , as well as in its understanding of wine. Unlike most wineries in the Bierzo that betted for slate soils, Losada prefers old vineyards grew up on clay soil , which makes the wine softer and elegant on the palate.Their wines come from old vines mostly belonging to different growers who are carefully selected by the winery .
Among its objectives it is" to produce wines that appeal to a large majority of consumers ," according to the winemaker Amancio Fernández from “el Bierzo”, and at the same time, while it is maintaining a line of quality over the years. And in this sense, since Losada started in 2005 has been characterized by its commitment to quality , openly betting on reaching a wide range of comsumers, both in Spain and beyond its borders.
Proof of this is the wine recently introduced in Spain ,Pájaro Rojo (so called in the States), made from 100% Mencia grape , originally designed for the U.S. market , a young wine , fruity , bright purple color, easy to drink, with the aim of reaching a wide range of population . As a referent for the winery, still remains Losada, an aged wine , Mencia grape, fresh, fruity , from marking Atlantic character, sweet and easy to drink, able to satisfy very different palates. On a higher range we find Altos de Losada, a wine 15-month aging in French oak barrels, with complex aromas and flavors, a smooth wine although more powerful than his younger brother, which it means that stronger meals are required to be paired up with it. As its most exclusive product, la Bienquerida, a wine from special vineyards, of low production, and it is now considered as part of the legendary wines of Bierzo. A sweet, elegant, complex and balanced wine, coming too from the Mencia grape landraces. In its younger vineyards, and as part of a recent development is the rose wine 5 Rosas, one of the few Rosé Wine made of mencía grapes, very fresh, floral, soft, with balanced acidity, and designed to satisfy the ever growing demand for wines like that.
Ctra a Villafranca LE-713, Km 12
24540 Cacabelos - León - Spain
Tf. 00 34 987 54 80 53
Emilio Valerio - Laderas de Montejurra
In Dicastillo, Navarra, Spain, it is located this small production winery that makes their wines almost in a traditional way, associated with both organic and biodynamic viticulture. So, green friendly. The concept of " terroir", is present in all their wines, to the point that some of them, such as Amburza or San Martin, acquire their names related to the vineyard of origin.Its 25 hectares of vineyards spread across several areas of the slopes of Montejurra´s mountain, where climatic conditions vary in a few miles giving a different character to each vineyard .Producers of wine and oil, the firmEmilio Valerio is based on the expertise of a team whose most visible leaders are Emilio Valeriohimself, the French winemaker Olivier Riviere, and the warehouse´s manager Aingeru Alonso, who was responsible for showing us all the work involved in the cellar in a didactic and enjoyable way . They have planned to produce personal wines, in which quality prevails over quantity. From old vineyards, recovering autochthonous grapes, and traditional agriculture, in line with the natural environment, they get fully respect to the place where the grapes grow.
La Merced, a white wine made from Malvasia grapes, whose balance between fruitiness and acidity make it a very round white wine of great freshness, while persistent nose. Its quality, combined with its low production makes it a very rare wine to be followed.
If we talk aboutred wineEmilio Valeriocomes from a “coupage” of Garnacha, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Tempranillo;grapes a fresh and fruity wine that after resting a few months in oak barrels was released in April 2013. It will soon be at its optimal point of consumption.Amburza is mostly made with&Cabernet Sauvignongrapes, which gives the astringent character; after sixteen months of aging in French oak barrels, was bottled in May 2013 , so it is perfect to be improved aging in the bottle.Usuaran 2010 is a wine made from indigenous varieties, such asGarnacha , Tempranillo and Graciano , which grew up separately for fourteen months, to be mixed in January 2012 and bottled in April, giving it a special character. San Martin, made from Garnacha and Tempranillo, is the top of the range. Its eighteen months in French oak barrels, promote good balance between wood, ripe fruit and acidity.
Hacienda Monasterio´s Sales Contact, we get into the carefully way to work in the cellar.Chrystelle Moranexplains us with passion how they make their wines into the more ecological possible way, even they harvest grapes by hand. In fact, Hacienda Monasterio carries out an organic viticulture, certified by (the Council of organic Farming of Castilla y León), and " biodynamic" * at the same time.
Located in the Ribera del Duero , in the valley of the Duero River , in what is known as the " Golden Mile" ( between Pesquera and Valbuena de Duero , in the province of Valladolid ) , the winery begins from their vineyards to make differences. Under the direction of its winemakers , Peter Sisseck the prestigious Danish , and the Spanish Carlos de la Fuente , it all starts when the plants go from the 2,200 per hectare average , at 4,000. It provokes that plants compite among them , and only the strongest fruit , and thus you get a low production ( 3,500 kg / Ha . ) but high quality.
The farm of 160 hectares is situated on a hillside , oriented north to south. There are 78 hectares of vineyards planted with mostly grapeTinta Fina( as Tempranillo grape is known in the area) , but also find Cabernet Sauvignon , Merlot and Malbec , French grape varieties that are used to improve flavors.
Ribera del Duerois an area characterized by a climate dominated by dry summers and long, harsh winters with low rainfall ( 400-600 mm. Annually)With these assumptions they obtain very well cared wines , full of nuances , from the roasted and licorice , with ripe fruit and dairy. Wines improve as they are aerated , and both mouth and nose become a treat for the senses . Wines full of balance, made to like more or less depending on the sensory profile of the person who savor .
We consider ourselves lucky to taste various wines from the winery : Hacienda Monasterio 2010 , still has to improve in the bottle , but it denotes a great potential, 2009,more mature than the former, a 2008 Reserve, delicious, that shows us all the aromas and flavors of a wine produced with all the quality standards possible and affection of their winemakers , and finally an Hacienda Monasterio Reserva Especial 2009, that could be classified as excelent.
* Biodynamics has much in common with other organic approaches – it emphasizes the use of manures and compostsand excludes the use of artificial chemicals on soil and plants. Methods unique to the biodynamic approach include its treatment of animals, crops, and soil as a single system; an emphasis from its beginnings on local production and distribution systems; its use of traditional and development of new local breeds and varieties; and the use of an astrological sowing and planting calendar.
Alonso del YerroNewly established family winery (founded in 2002), Alonso del Yerro has achieved in just 10 years a place among the great, having obtained very good scores from critics. With 26 hectares of vineyard in the Ribera del Duero apellation, Tempranillo grape mainly, their reference brands are Alonso del Yerro(100% Tempranillo) with a production of 70,000 bottles, and María (100% Tempranillo) and only 7,000 bottles. Both with graduations above 15 °, which gives an idea of the potential of these wines, which, however, are silky in the mouth; and in nose a wide variety of fruit and mineral flavors are perceived. Still more recent is Paydos, a wine made in Toro, with typical local variety, Tinta Fina de Toro, which is expressed in all its fullness. In 80% its wines are destinated to exportation, out of Spain. Unitated States and North and Central Europe are the targets.
Teso La Monja
This cellar was awarded by la Guía Peñin as best in Spain in 2012. "Teso La Monja" is the new project of the Eguren siblings in the privileged terroirs of the Toro appellation. The former famous wine &Numanthia,has given rise to a new powerful wines Románico, Almirez, Victorino, y Alabaster, where the old Tinta de Toro grape is present, so red wines that show us where they come from.