For those who love "terroir wines," Raul Perez is one of those people to follow no matter what they make. He has a seemingly innate winemaking talent and an intimate working knowledge of his vineyards near his hometown of Valtuille de Abajo in the Bierzo region of Northwestern Spain. We're particularly excited to sell some of his latest releases from the 2018 vintage, which Raul thinks was the best in at least a decade, if not in his 25 years of making wine there! This is reflected in some great reviews from The Wine Advocate, which you can check out below.
The climate and soils of Bierzo are a distinct departure from the Mediterranean coast and the semi-arid high plains and valleys of inland Spain: it's distinctly cooler and wetter from the greater Atlantic influence. Naturally, distinct varieties of grapes thrive here, dominated by Mencia for red wines and Godello for whites. Mencia-driven wines from Bierzo can traverse a style between Oregon Pinot Noir and Rhone Valley Syrah: they have a moderate amount of velvet-textured tannins with spicy, mineral sensations, and floral aromas along with both dark and red fruits, like brambly blackberry and fresh cherry. Godello shares some things in common with dry Chenin Blanc from the Loire Valley and the best sites of South Africa, with subtle flavors ranging from the citrus family (lemon, grapefruit, & orange), quince, and stone fruits (peach & nectarine) along with a broad mouthfeel and crystalline or crushed rock 'minerality' on the palate that can carry a mouthwatering saline sensation like in good Chablis.
Mr. Perez's winemaking philosophy is at the same time traditional and innovative, involving harvesting from old, mixed-variety vineyards in which he practices organic farming, and with native yeast fermentations that proceed leisurely. Depending on the wine, aging takes place in a mix of concrete, amphorae, and mostly older barrels that provide slow oxygenation without covering those carefully developed flavors. Raul also minimizes the use of sulfites, a risky choice in winemaking, but for him it's a requirement. None of the wines are filtered or fined.
WINE ADVOCATE 95 POINTS - "2018 is a great vintage: The cycle was long and Godello ripened properly, so they avoided the excess bitterness on the finish, as you can see in the 2018 La Vizcaína La del Vivo. It's made the same way as in previous years: they use 500-liter oak barrels and one amphora with skins and flor that is used for the final blend. Having such perfect ripeness, the wine is very tasty, and there's no fruit but a lot more austerity-they select the vineyards (around two hectares) for that straight and austere character (there is a little bit of Doña Blanca too, which adds to the austerity). It has a saline palate and some rugosity, complex, with no room for sweetness. I think this could live 10 years and develop great complexity. In 2019, they replaced some of the barrels with a 2,500-liter oak foudre. This is the most austere and serious white in its finest vintage. A white for purists and one that is going to develop very slowly. There are 4,000 bottles of this. It was bottled in September 2019."
Godello and Dona Blanca.