Friday was our Ribera del Duero day and a spectacular sequence of events unfolded as we headed east out of Valladolid. The Ribera del Duero is a very high quality wine region that has attracted some of Spain’s top wine makers and biggest companies and has really come to prominence over the past 30 years. This is a relatively short timeframe despite the fact that Vega Sicilia – Spain’s most famous wine is found here.
Our first stop was Finca Villacreces. This was an old Franciscan monastery that was acquired by Lalo Anton of Viña Izadi in Rioja in 2004. The property was totally renovated and is now producing some top class wines. The estate and winery are immaculate – set amongst beautiful trees with lovely lawns and water features. After visiting the vineyards and winemaking facilities we settled into a splendid tasting of their Toro and
Rioja wines followed by their three Riberas, accompanied by some mature cheeses. The Pruno, which accounts for 90% of their production is great entry level, the Finca Villacreces oozes richness and depth and the tiny production Nebro (at £120 a bottle) was intense with many decades of ageing left.
From Finca Villacreces, we headed further east along the Duero river to the Valduero estate, with its stunning winery built into the hillside. My tour back in 2012 included a legendary visit to Valduero, that people still talk about, and this visit was just as good.
Alphonso was our host and what a guy!
We enjoyed the full Valduero experience as we headed into the cavernous winery, passing the tanks and barrels to arrive at a dark space with the sign “El Arte de Valduero”. Nothing to report……or so we thought.
Alphonso flipped the lights and suddenly we were transported to Las Vegas as the most fabulous art display of converted barrels was revealed. Utterly stunning!
Alphonso was an absolute scream with a wonderfully droll sense of humour that kept everyone in stitches.
We inspected the Barrel Club cellar groups or individuals can ‘own’ barrels of wine which will eventually be bottled and shipped to them (Mark Knopfler was the most recent name to be added to the list), and then headed into their stunning dining room and tasting area overlooking the vineyards.
A fabulous tasting took us through almost the entire range, accompanied by some tapas of manchego, morcilla and chorizo and then lunch of gazpacho soup, roast lamb and fruit. The wine flowed from a 5 litre giant of a bottle and when that ran out an seemingly endless supply of Reserva was poured. Finishing lunch at 6.15pm, we literally poured out of Valduero into the bus.
A truly amazing and memorable day!