Bodegas Vizar is located in the municipality of Villabáñez, to the east of Valladolid is Spain’s Castile and León region, bordering the Ribera del Duero DO.
Vizar’s application to obtain the Dehesa Peñalba vino de pago DO was first put forward to, and approved by the Agrarian and Technological Institute of Castilla y León (ITACyL), in 2019. The proposal was then submitted to the European Commission, which granted the final green light earlier this month.
‘We started the process in 2015 and this involved a lot of hard work,’ MD and co-founder Felipe Zarzuela told Decanter. ‘We had to pass hard audits… having obtained this achievement is a great recognition of our effort and quality. A well-done job since we started the project.’
Spain’s vino de pago classification was originally introduced in 2003. The single-winery DO is awarded to estates whose vineyards benefit from unique environmental and climatic characteristics that differentiate them from surrounding regions and denominations. Dehesa Peñalba’s vineyards are located on a river basin, with a topsoil consisting of pebbles, gravel and sand, and marl-limestone underneath.
‘This means filtering soils which are dry and sandy on the surface. It’s a warm terrain but that is cool underneath, with good water reserves and poor in organic matter and nutrients,’ Zarzuela explained. ‘Our estate’s winegrowing heritage dates back to the 14th century. We also benefit from a special microclimate, being surrounded by the Duero river and its canals, and by centuries-old mountains and pine forests that produce a cushioning effect against adverse conditions.’
Bodegas Vizar boasts some 90ha of land, comprising vineyards planted to Tempranillo, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Verdejo. The wines are currently being labelled as IGP Tierra de Castilla y León and will only be allowed to carry the Dehesa Peñalba vino de pago DO as of the 2022 vintage, yet Zarzuela has appealed for the DO to be retroactive.
‘We are requesting the possibility of it being retroactive, so our first Dehesa Peñalba DO vintages could be Vizar Selección Especial 2019 [a Tempranillo and Syrah blend] and Vizar Syrah 2015. We have to wait for the audit but we will know this soon.’
The quality requirements for a Vino de Pago are comparable to those of a wider denomination. All the grapes used must come from estate-owned vineyards and the wine must be produced and matured within its premises.
Most of the about 20 vinos de pago currently active in Spain are located within the large Castilla-La Mancha region, but some are also found in Aragon, Navarra and in the surroundings of Valencia.