Spain located on the Iberian Peninsula, has over 2.9 million acres planted—making it the most widely planted wine producing nation but it is the third largest producer of wine in the world, the largest being France followed by Italy. This is due, in part, to the very low yields and wide spacing of the old vines planted on the dry, infertile soil found in many Spanish wine regions. The country has an abundance of native grape varieties, with over 400 varieties planted throughout Spain though 80 percent of the country's wine production is from only 20 grapes—including the reds Tempranillo, Garnacha, and Monastrell; the whites Albariño from Galicia, Palomino, Airen, and Macabeo; and the three cava grapes Parellada, Xarel·lo, and Macabeo. Major Spanish wine regions include the Rioja and Ribera del Duero which are known for their Tempranillo production; Valdepeñas, drunk by Unamuno and Hemingway, known for high quality tempranillo at low prices; Jerez, the home of the fortified wine Sherry; Rías Baixas in the northwest region of Galicia that is known for its white wines made from Albariño and Catalonia which includes the Cava and still wine producing regions of the Penedès as well the Priorat region. Spanish wine laws created the Denominación de Origen (DO) system in 1932 and were later revised in 1970. The system shares many similarities with the hierarchical Appellation d'origine contrôlée (AOC) system of France, Portugal's Denominação de Origem Controlada (DOC) and Italy's Denominazione di origine controllata (DOC) system.
- Item #: i_383728Bottle Size: 750mlWine Advocate: 95 +WINE ADVOCATE 95+ POINTS - "... The difference with the 2017 is the quality of the tannins, which rounder and more elegant here, and the concentration, which is lower here, so this 2018 comes through as more fluid, fresh and elegant, with a silkier mouthfeel. They finally bought the vineyard in 2018, and the change in viticulture resulted in lower yields..."
- Item #: i_383726Bottle Size: 750mlWine Advocate: 93WINE ADVOCATE 93 POINTS - "La Poulosa is quite regular and ripe, with notes of prunes, and even though there is more freshness in 2018, the 2018 La Vizcaína La Poulosa shows closer to the 2017, keeping the profile of the vineyard, which is very strong. In fact, there is only half a degree difference in alcohol between this 2018 and the 2017. There is more fruit here, and it's juicy and approachable, with integrated oak (they started replacing the 225-liter oak barrels with 500-liter ones), more freshness and a livelier palate. The tannins are round, with no edges, despite the fact that all the La Vizcaína range ferments with 100% full clusters."
- Item #: i_383252Bottle Size: 750mlWine Advocate: 95For 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.
- Item #: i_383758Bottle Size: 750mlWine Advocate: 97We love the wines of Raul Perez, not only because they walk the appetizing line between fruity and savory, but because they are like impressionist landscapes of their home. Over the last 15 years Raul Perez has gained a strong following because of his prolific 'vinography', including wines that explore the growing areas near his hometown of Valtuille de Abajo in the region of Bierzo. Bierzo is a departure from the inland valleys and Mediterranean coast as it's distinctly cooler and wetter due to its proximity to the Atlantic Ocean, though well protected from storms, nestled in a mountainous amphitheater. Naturally, distinct varieties of grapes thrive here, dominated by Mencia for red wines, whose style roams the spaces between Cote de Nuits Pinot Noir, Loire Valley Cabernet Franc, and Northern Rhone Syrah depending on the character of the vintage and site.
Mr. Perez's winemaking philosophy is very classical, involving harvesting from old, mixed variety vineyards in which he practices organic farming, with native yeast fermentations that proceed leisurely as the whole grape clusters slowly break down; he then leaves the juice in contact with skins for long periods (a total of 1-3 months!) to gently extract the right amount of flavor and texture for the desired style. Aging takes place in older, used barrels that provide slow oxygenation without covering those carefully developed flavors with oak. Raul also avoids adding sulfites, a risky choice in winemaking, but for him it's a requirement.
La Vizcaína is a newer line of wines based on old family vineyards, and the small 'La Vitoriana' vineyard is the oldest of those at 130 years! A step up in richness and complexity, with more mineral, spice and roasted notes from barrel aging.
WINE ADVOCATE 97 POINTS - "This 2018 La Vizcaína La Vitoriana includes vines that were replanted in 2014/2015 with Bastardo (Merenzao or Trousseau), so the wine is more aromatic, more ethereal, perfumed and elegant, really impressive. This is the most aromatic and impressive; there is a conjunction of everything, the north-facing vineyards. It has impressive depth and expressiveness; it's wild but refined, explosive and more Burgundian than any of the la Vizcaína wines. This has character and attitude, light, power, energy, freshness and symmetry; it has a fine thread, lace-like, really impressive. In my head, Tom Jones started singing his famous song "Sex bomb, sex bomb..." This is an incredible wine at an incredible price point. 5,800 bottles produced. It was bottled in May 2020, only five weeks before I tasted it, and the wine felt relaxed and expressive. Things can only get better with a little more time in bottle. This could very well be the finest vineyard from the project. It's a small paraje, and there are only six owners (Castro Ventosa, Vinos Valtuille and two or three small grape growers); there is a part that is abandoned, and part of it is also south facing. The whole cru could be between three and four hectares."
- Item #: i_383506Bottle Size: 750mlWine Advocate: 95 +WINE ADVOCATE 95+ POINTS - "One of the very few Bierzo wines from limestone soils and the only white I know of is the amazing 2018 VO Cal. It's from a year when ripening was slow, so the grapes ripened thoroughly and the acidity is more integrated. This is still 12.5% alcohol and has seven grams of acidity with a pH of 3.1—a white of moderate alcohol and vibrant freshness, plus the freshness and sapid sensation of the limestone ("cal" is the Spanish word for lime). This matured 50% in barrique and 50% in amphorae/tinaja for one year. This is perhaps not as radical as 2017; this is the first vintage when the wine went through malolactic fermentation, so the profile is a little different, a little more approachable, but with the austere profile and the salinity of the limestone. This perhaps has more depth and more weight and is probably going to age for a longer time. The nose has the textbook chamomile aromas and palate keeps the citrus and saline character. It's vibrant, layered and complex. It's clean and evolves slowly in the glass, so it should develop slowly in the bottle too."