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_383584Bottle Size: 750mlJames Suckling: 93JAMES SUCKLING 93 POINTS - "The blue fruit and graphite, as well as stone aromas are impressive. Full body. Firm and silky. Flavorful finish. Shows tension and focus."
- Item #: i_383458Bottle Size: 750mlWine Advocate: 93+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 93+ POINTS - "The truly impressive 2018 Ultreia Saint Jacques transcends its price category. They destemmed more grapes because they fermented it in the oak vats they bought from Vega Sicilia to use in the new winery, where it macerated for two months and then matured in used barrels for nine to 10 months. The secret is to use very good grapes from very good vineyards. The wine is clean, precise and fresh, and the oak is super-subtle, almost unnoticeable. The palate reflects a fluid wine of pleasure, a red of thirst. This is the wine where they have invested more, and 2018 has to be the finest vintage to date. They did 150,000 bottles of this in the outstanding 2018 vintage. It was bottled in October/November 2019."
Mostly Mencia, with Bastardo & Garnacha Tintorera
- Item #: i_380113Bottle Size: 750MLWine Advocate: 93+PRACTICING BIODYNAMIC & ORGANICALLY FARMED
We are so excited that another dynamite vintage of Petalos has just arrived. Think burgundy with a hint of Northern Rhone syrah.
WINE ADVOCATE 93+ POINTS - "Their regional wine achieves unheard of levels of complexity and nuance with the 2018 Pétalos del Bierzo. It's a blend from over 90 hectares of vineyards in dierent part of Bierzo, 20% of the grapes from their own vineyards in Corullón, including some 4% white grapes. The rest is purchased from 180+ families with whom they have a long-term relationship. Some of these vineyards are not yet certied organic, but the objective is to achieve it in the next ve years. It's mostly Mencía, but there are other grapes varieties in the vineyards; they estimate about 3% of other reds, Alicante Bouschet, Gran Negro, Pan y Carne, Negreda, etc. and around 4% whites, Valenciana, Jerez and Godello, half from Corullón and the other half from other villages. The grapes were partly destemmed and fermented in open-top stainless steel and oak vats with 25 days of maceration where the wine underwent a slow three-month malolactic. It matured in barrel for 12 months. This is the wine that showcases the house style and the character of the vintage, which, in this case, is delicate and very much from the zone. There is an aromatic purity and elegance that is very captivating with a faint inty background, the cherry essence (Mediterranean) and a touch of fern (Atlantic) plus a honeyed twist that shows up after a couple of hours in the glass. It has a silky texture, soft and caressing, with very ne tannins and the faint bitter twist in the nish. In an ideal world, this should be the rst wine people drink from Bierzo, and fortunately, in many cases, it is, given the availability, even if they did a more severe selection. This is approachable now but would be better in one year, and it's going to live in bottle. 282,038 bottles and 2,500 magnums produced. It was bottled between December 2019 and January 2020.
During the late 1980's, Alvaro Palacios traveled his native Spain selling French barriques to winemakers. But his journeys had a second purpose: to find the best place to achieve his goal of making Spain's greatest wines. Alvaro wanted-incredibly steep hillside vineyards, distinctive terroirs and, most importantly, ancient vineyards of Mencia—a unique red grape believed to be brought by French pilgrims during the Middle Ages. Meanwhile, his nephew Ricardo Perez had finished enological studies in Bordeaux and was traveling across France-absorbing everything he could about great wines. He worked the harvest at Chateau Margaux, and did internships at other Bordelais firms like Moueix (Petrus, Trotanoy, etc.). He also visited Alvaro frequently and came to share a belief in Bierzo's potential. In 1998, the two decided on a joint venture and set out in search of the region's finest old vineyards. Alvaro and Ricardo found promising sites in a number of villages but shortly came to believe that the greatest potential lay in a little town on Bierzo's western border named Corullon. Old vineyards lined the precipitous hillsides there, and the local soils were extremely poor-composed mostly of schist-but with incredible diversity. The minute variations in soils and exposures across this zone immediately reminded the two of Burgundy's Cote d'Or, or Piedmont's Langhe hills. In Corullon, Alvaro and Ricardo believe they have found a unique combination of soils, old vines, and a distinctive variety that will yield their own grands crus.
- Item #: i_378841Bottle Size: 750mlORGANICALLY FARMED
"Crushed cherries, orange zest, and scrub brush garrigue with mouthwatering acidity. Pair this lively red with anything char-grilled over wood fire or roasted on a spit.
Diego Losado, a minimal-interventionist wine grower, is shaking things up in Bierzo, creating wines of intensity, focus, & purity. In the winery, Diego works with a mix of unlined concrete vats and older oak & chestnut casks and foudre with no pumps nor battonage, and minimal SO2 additions. Unfiltered and unfined.
The vines for the "1984" bottling are 70-90 years old and planted on clay soils incorporated with slate and trace minerals at 650 meters elevation, some of the highest vineyards in Bierzo. The grapes are partially destemmed, macerated for 7-8 days in 3 large oak casks. The wine is then transferred to small barrels to finish primary and malolactic fermentation, then aged for 8 months." - JOSE PASTOR SELECTIONS
- Item #: i_378921Bottle Size: 750mlORGANICALLY FARMED & NO ADDED SULFITES
"El Aqueronte comes from a single namesake vineyard of 100% Mencía. The vineyard is full of life, with a huge diversity of flora that grows between the vines. The grapes are hand-harvested, with 1/3 left whole cluster, 1/3 destemmed and crushed, and 1/3 destemmed and crushed but the stems are included in the primary fermentation. Fermentation is initiated with wild yeasts in chestnut vat for 5-7 days with daily battonage, but no pumping over. The juice is taken off of the skins and stems before primary fermentation is finished and the grapes are pressed. The alcoholic and malolactic fermentations continue in chestnut vat where the wine rests for 10 months, before being bottled without fining, filtration, or added SO2. El Aqueronte is the most aromatic of Diego’s wines, showing a woven complexity of red fruits, florals, spice, and minerals. A supreme expression of Mencía and Bierzo terruño. " - JOSE PASTOR SELECTIONS
- Item #: i_381138Bottle Size: 750MLWine Advocate: 96+PRACTICING ORGANIC
We 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.
This flagship wine is made from a single vineyard, 'Las Villegas', planted at the end of the 1800s. This is the darkest and richest of the wines, with black fruits and tobacco, showing oak influence through its woody & cocoa aromas, and herbal-balsam notes that he describes as reminiscent of an apothecary. With the 2016 vintage the Wine Advocate points out that "the grapes are a lot more concentrated, with more tannin and structure," but that the wine still “has great freshness and perfume...It's really outstanding." This is the wine to age if you're so inclined!"
WINE ADVOCATE 96+ POINTS - "There are only 1,000 bottles of the 2016 Ultreia Valtuille (the new name, as all labels have been simplified and cleaned up, and some of the names have even been shortened). The crop was greatly reduced because of mildew, and the grapes are a lot more concentrated, with more tannin and structure, and they had to do a much longer élevage, up to 24 months in barrique. Despite its concentration and power, it has great freshness and perfume. You don't find excess tannin, and it seems like the time in barrel has really polished the edges. It's really outstanding."
Ultreia de Valtuilleis a red wine of very limited production, its first vintage held great international acclaim. "Ultreia" was the greeting that formerly used by pilgrims who were on the road to Santiago. It is a Latin word which today would translate as "forward" or "continue". Ultreia de Valtuille is a single variety of Mencia old variety made with grapes from a single farm, "The Villegas" located in the small town of Valtuille. It is an estate of just over 1 hectare of old vines, planted in 1908, on a calcareous clay soil with lots of sand on the surface. It is located at 530 metres above sea level and has an Atlantic-continental climate, which is cold yet with a relatively moderate climate as it is an area located halfway between the land and the coast. The wine production is done without much intervention. Fermentation takes place in vats. After the fermentation, there is a long maceration and extraction. Ultreia de Valtuille spends 14-15 months aging in French oak barrels used for wine. Once matured, it is bottled without filtering or clarification. Raúl Pérez is a connoisseur of the Mencia variety, with Ultreia de Valtuille one of his masterpieces.
- 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_383727Bottle Size: 750mlWINE ADVOCATE 95 POINTS - "La Gundiñas is the wine that shows the most differences between 2017 and 2018, when the 2018 La Vizcaína Las Gundiñas feels like a mini-Bonnes Mares! ... There have been ups and downs with this wine over the years, and this 2018 is clearly one of the ups... This is super elegant, a rara avis. Bravo!"
- Item #: i_383507Bottle Size: 750mlWine Advocate: 93WINE ADVOCATE 93 POINTS-"This is a red that is perfect for the by-the-glass market: the 2018 Quite is light and perfumed and has the Atlantic freshness of the 2018 vintage. It starts off a little reductive, and decanting it in advance could be a good idea if you pull the cork any time soon. 2018 has been a slow-developing vintage—the wines are evolving slowly, and this feels very young and tender. It's floral and elegant and has less alcohol than any other vintage, so it's a little lighter and more delicate and subtle. They harvested slowly, the vinification process was paused and the development of the wine quite slow. This has a velvety texture, but it always has structure, juicy berries and very fine tannins. "