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_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_383228Bottle Size: 750mlPRACTICING ORGANIC
JOSE PASTOR SELECTIONS - "From multiple plots of Mencía vines with an average age of 40 years old, located in and around Ribeira Sacra. The un-oaked, regional tinto is all about immediate pleasure with pure, lush red fruits, spices, and slate-laden minerality. A wine to pair with all kinds of foods, especially chorizos, embutidos, roast pork, spicy foods, any dish with a lot of Pimentón.
Cultivated since Roman times, Ribeira Sacra’s steep terraced vineyards are some of the most picturesque and treacherous to work in the world of wine - think Douro, Cote Rotie, or Mosel. Like those most dramatic terruños, winegrowing here is not for the faint of heart; it takes spirited determination, unwieldy optimism, a sense of tradition, and a willingness to collaborate. All of these qualities are embodied by the young Pedro Rodríguez of Guímaro."
- 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_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_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. "