There were celebrations in Rueda, as Bodegas de Alberto received a Platinum medal at DWWA 2020 for its De Alberto Dorado – for an impressive second consecutive year. After making history as the first DO Rueda wine to win this accolade in 2019, the repeat success is a ringing endorsement for both the bodega and this historic style of wine.
The story of Bodegas de Alberto stretches back over 350 years, when the monastery of San Pablo was established by Dominican monks in Serrada, in the province of Valladolid. The farmhouse built by the monks survives to this day and has been owned by the winemaking Gutiérrez family for five generations.
Today the winery is a popular tourist attraction thanks to its atmospheric cellars, with large brick barrel vaults that stretch for over a kilometer. These cellars also hold the key to producing De Alberto Dorado, a 100% Verdejo wine that’s made using a solera based on a 70-year-old ‘mother wine’.
The juice from the Verdejo grapes is initially stored in partially-filled, 16-litre, glass damajuanas (demijohns), which are left in the open air for 12 months to allow the wine to oxidise. After ageing in the solera, the dorado wines develop a golden colour and unique complexity of aromas and flavours.
Defender of tradition
Bodegas de Alberto has also preserved Rueda’s historic tradition of pálido production. Like the De Alberto Dorado, De Alberto Pálido is a generous, 100% Verdejo wine. However pálido is produced under a layer of flor (like Sherry), so it ages biologically, while dorado ages oxidatively. In 2020 the DO Rueda reinstated pálido production within its regulations and the De Alberto Pálido will be available to buy from December.
Since 1941 Alberto Gutiérrez has championed these historic style of winemaking, followed by his three sons Dalmacio, José and Alberto. Today the legacy is continued by the fifth generation of the family, inspired by a strong connection to the land and traditions of Rueda.
‘De Alberto is the only surviving winery to use this process and it is still applied in exactly the same way today, continuous and unbroken for more than 70 years,’ explains the winery’s general manager, Carmen San Martín Gutiérrez.
The family’s respect for their local heritage means that Bodegas de Alberto has also continued to make red wines – alongside its whites and rosés – during the recent boom for Rueda whites and Verdejo that saw external investment groups and large producers expanding into the region.
Facing the future
However a determination to stay true to their legacy hasn’t stopped the family business evolving. This includes renovation of the winery and modernisation of winemaking equipment; as well as capitalising on a new audience of drinkers – increasingly appealing to more female wine lovers – and exploring new drinking occasions, such as the aperitif hour, which calls for lighter styles of white wines.
The family’s hard work and skilled winemaking has been rewarded with numerous awards for De Alberto Dorado, of which the DWWA Platinum medal is just the latest. They include: the Grand Gold Medal in the 2019 Concours Mondial de Bruxelles; the Gran Bacchus de Oro at the Concurso Internacional de Vinos Bacchus held in Madrid; the Great Gold Medal in Vinespaña 2018 organised by the Spanish Federation of Winemakers Associations (FEAE); 91 points in Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate and 95 points in the Peñín Guide to Spanish Wine.
Alongside these awards, the winery’s other Verdejo wines have also been recognised. De Alberto Ecológico Verdejo won Silver medals at both Concours Mondial de Bruxelles and Germany’s Mundus Vini, a Berliner Wein Trophy Gold Medal and a Bronze medal at DWWA. De Alberto Fermentado en Barrica also won a Bronze medal in DWWA. Finally De Alberto Sobre Lías was awarded Gold Medals by MonoVino and CINVE.
‘All our wines detail our history and the preservation of a wine legacy, and in some cases – such as with the Alberto Dorado which is the soul of De Alberto and our most special wine – it is a historical legacy,’ concludes Carmen San Martín Gutiérrez. ‘They also represent the Gutiérrez family’s love for the land, perseverance, hard but beautiful work, year after year and decade after decade, all transmitted from one generation to the next.’