Modern consumers want it all: wines that showcase concentrated fruit, enlivening freshness, and that distinctive acid drive. But can these (seemingly) contrasting attributes be reconciled into one harmonious package? Bodegas Valduero has proven they can.
The estate’s story takes place in the dramatic vineyards of Ribera del Duero in northwestern Spain. In 1984, Gregorio García Álvarez and his two daughters Yolanda and Carolina García Viadero, founded a boutique winery with one single goal: the pursuit of supreme quality. From the outset, the wines have been produced according to three key pillars of excellence – acidity, balance, and complexity (ABC). But this mantra isn’t merely skin deep, it’s the overarching philosophy which underpins Valduero’s long-term strategy.
Indeed, after a minimum of four years in the bodega’s dark cellars, these superlative wines show few sharp edges. The Valduero Reserva dos Cotas, for example, spends 30 months in oak barrels and 30 months in bottle. It represents a masterclass in Ribera del Duero wines – a round, velvety, and elegant Tempranillo red – offering consumers an attractive marriage of freshness, drinkability and fruit-driven generosity. Meanwhile, Valduero’s signature white (100% Albillo) is one of Spain’s top examples of the category. The lively acidity, sophisticated structure and ample freshness that flows effortlessly from this wine is custom-built for the dinner table. The bouquet is striking: yellow fruits, citrus, pineapple, and lanolin. A testament to the skill of Valduero’s winemaker, Yolanda Viadero.
Everything starts, of course, with the best raw materials. Valduero cultivates 150 hectares of vines, situated in two distinct sub-regions in Ribera del Duero: Gumiel de Mercado and Villanueva de Gumiel. Both are now planted to Tinto Fino, the name for the particular phenotypic expression of Tempranillo that grows in the region. It thrives on these infertile calcareous soils, ripening small berries of highly concentrated fruit in the warm continental climate of Castilla Y Léon. Yet the vines also benefit from a significant difference between the daytime and night-time temperature, a concomitant of growing vines at high altitudes – between 800m and 900m above sea level.
Such conditions are very conducive to a slow and even ripening, achieving full physiological maturity without the often inevitable aggressive levels of alcohol. Valduero is also very proud of its bush vines, which are not irrigated. The average yield, meanwhile, is seldom high, due to the terroir and age of the vineyards; 150 hectares are used to produce fewer than 400,000 bottles. In fact, some wines require a full vine just to produce one bottle. Needless to say, only natural organic fertilisers are used. The berries are meticulously hand-harvested, destemmed, and fermented in oak barrels in a sustainably-designed winery. And yet, such are the quality standards set by the oenological team, Valduero does not make wines every year; the 2008 and 2013 vintages were considered to be unsatisfactory and no compromises were made.
Most importantly, Valduero allows its wines the time they need to come to their own. All the top labels are aged for several years before release, and the bodega is celebrated for keeping a back catalogue of rare vintages, going as far back as 1989. This while continuing to innovate, producing wine for a modern audience. For that reason, Valduero has a proud legacy of acting as a global ambassador for the Ribera del Duero appellation. In addition to flying the local flag, however, the family has purchased vineyards in the neighbouring region of Toro.
Valduero brings an intellectual and emotional commitment to its craft, as well as marketing-savvy; the company keeps wine innovative and exciting while remaining fiercely proud of its roots and heritage. Valduero represents the past, the present and the future of Ribera del Duero wines.