More glorious sunshine greeted us on Friday as we set off east of Valladolid to the acclaimed area of Ribera del Duero
This is the best known and most highly regarded wine producing areas around the city and is home to arguably Spain’s most famous estate – Vega Sicilia. Tempranillo is King in this area and our task was to explore as much diversity as we could.
Altitude of up to 1000 metres, significant diurnal temperature difference and a broad range of soils all contribute to a great mix of wine styles.
Our first stop was at Tomás Postigo. Tomás is a renowned enologist who has worked with some the most famous names and estates in Ribera del Duero. In 2008 he set up his own bodega in an industrial unit near to the train station in Peñafiel.
On arrival, we were met by his son Gabriel who led us round the unit. It was the most functional and most unlikely winery I have ever visited and despite removing a lot of the romantic imagery that we often associate with wine making, it was a quite extraordinary visit. The level of detail involved to create the highest quality wine was amazing. All gravity fed using mini cranes, cultivation of their wild yeasts, microanalysis of the toasted insides of the barrels, and a combination of own vineyard and selected grower fruit all contribute to a stunning set of wines.
Their barrel fermented Verdejo was rich and utterly delicious – perhaps the best Verdejo we have tasted on tour. We then tried the 2017 Ribera red – with a twist. Gabriel had decanted three samples from three different barrels – each barrel with a different level of toasting. This was highly instructive and a first on tour. The differences were plain to taste and gave a really meaningful insight into the art of deciding on the use of oak.
The 2016 finished article red was superb – beautifully balanced with many years ahead of it.
This was a truly wonderful visit and tasting in the most unlikely of locations.
From Peñafiel, it was a short hop to Aranda de Duero where we met owner Riccardo Penalba, owner of the Finca Torremilanos. This is a 200 hectare estate, organic and biodynamic and with a four star hotel attached to it. Riccardo gave us a wonderful insight into the history and philosophy of the estate as we wandered through the vines.
A leisurely tasting ensued in the courtyard of the hotel before we moved into a beautiful high ceilinged dining room for lunch. A traditional, classic lunch followed with morcilla, sausage and croquetas, followed by lechazo – young lamb and salad. A deliciously rich crème caramel and ice cream rounded the lunch off perfectly before we all got stuck into the local Spanish spirit – Orujo. Before it all got too messy it was time to leave and after a burst of animated discussion, the bus went hauntingly quiet……