Bodegas Valduero is one of Spain’s most visionary and globally respected wineries. For almost 40 years, this family-owned-and-run estate has been leading the way in Ribera del Duero. One of the first wineries to emerge in Ribera del Duero after the Denominación de Origen (DO) was founded in 1982, Valduero helped shape its early days, and has been producing some of the region’s most iconic wines ever since.
The bodega’s story is one that brings together all the necessary elements for creating a great wine estate: a world- beating terroir and a passionate winemaking family with the artisan philosophy, vision and long-term commitment (and investment) required to turn great fruit into great wine.
The story starts in 1984, when Gregorio García Álvarez, and his two daughters Yolanda and Carolina García Viadero, came together to revive the family tradition of winemaking. Each of the three brought disparate and complementary skills: Gregorio as an industrial engineer, Yolanda an agricultural engineer and Carolina with her degree in Art History and an MBA.
That combination of talents is summed up in the family’s philosophy of wine production. In their words: ‘Craftsmanship, art in each bottle, respect to our vineyards, low yield per vineyard and selection of bunches in the vineyard. Time is all: our wines age patiently and long in our cellars.’
As with all great wine estates, any understanding of Bodega Valduero must start with the vineyards. The company has some 140ha of vines, located in two spectacular sites in the Upper Ribera del Duero: the 90ha Gumiel de Mercado and the 46ha Villanueva de Gumiel. Both are now planted to Tinto Fino (the local name for Tempranillo), which, after some experimentation with other varieties, the family now recognises as the “Queen of Ribera del Duero”.
A crucial aspect of the vineyards’ character is their altitude: at respectively 800m and 900m above sea level they are among the highest in Ribera del Duero (and, indeed, in Europe). That leads to significant differences between daytime and night-time temperatures during the growing season, with hot sunny days, plunging to 14°C at night: perfect conditions for shaping Valduero’s trademark mix of fruit intensity with freshness, elegance and fine tannins.
The way the vineyards are managed is every bit as important as their location. From the very start, the family has understood that, in their own words, ‘you can’t take more from the earth than it can give’. To that end the family employs a sustainable, traditional form of viticulture, with low-planted, low-yielding bush vines, with the grapes harvested – and carefully selected – by hand.
The commitment to sustainability continues into the family’s state-of-the- art winery. Arranged over three tunnels blasted directly into the hillside, it was constructed to ensure almost zero external energy use. Here, the winemaking approach is all about careful handling, sensitivity and patience. The winery is arranged to allow grapes and wine to flow without pumps, and the grapes are pressed by the force of gravity.
Valduero’s commitment to producing only the finest wines leads to a certain amount of restriction: the family only makes wine in the best years, and it only produces at the Reserva and Gran Reserva level. As the winery says, ‘All our wines pass time in more than one type of oak barrel. Time is one of our ingredients and it allows us to assemble all the aromas and flavours at their source in the bottle.’
The family only makes wine in the best years, and it only produces at the Reserva and Gran Reserva level.
The winery’s commitment to putting quality first can also be seen in the unusual length of that ageing. Valduero will never release a wine before it’s ready, with wines from 1989 and 1999 among its current releases.
It all adds up to a portfolio of fine wines that has attracted the attention, praise and routinely high scores of the world’s leading wine critics – and the regular custom of a cast of A-list personalities. Cristiano Ronaldo, Mario Vargas Llosa, Ken Follet, Ágatha Ruiz de la Prada and Plácido Domingo are all members of La Tenada, Valdeuro’s official social wine club – a fitting list of high-achieving customers for one of Spain’s highest-achieving wine estates.
Time, care and altitude: four great Bodegas Valduero wines
Valduero Tierra Alta de Dos Racimos Gran Reserva
Only made in exceptional vintages, and in very limited production of no more than 10,000 bottles from very low-yielding, 70-year-old vines. Aged for 48 months in different types of oak barrel. An extraordinary wine that reaches the mind through the senses.
Valduero 6 Años Reserva Premium
A testament to Valduero’s skill in the careful art of ageing, this reserva spends 36 months in a variety of different oak barrels, with racking by hand, followed by a further 36 months in bottle, in the perfect ageing conditions of 12°C and 85% humidity in the Valduero cellars.
Valduero Una Cepa
A wine that is all about the special fruit from which it is made, sourced entirely from low, unirrigated, untreated Tempranillo bush vines, which produce beautifully concentrated grapes in very low yields – as the name suggests, production is limited to just one bottle per vine.
Valduero Tierra Alta en Dos Maderas
A flagship wine for Valduero, this cuvée celebrates two elements of the family’s style: the vines are grown at high altitude (tierra alta), giving that beautiful balance of power and freshness; and the wine is aged with great care in wooden barrels from two sources (dos maderas).
Discover more: www.bodegasvalduero.com