We met our driver/guide Jose and left Madrid, headed into the wine region of Ribera Del Duero for our first winery visit. This winery was Abadia Retuerta and Maria Martin led us on a private tour of the winery.
Abadia Retuerta, founded in 1996, is located in Sardón de Duero, a town near Valladolid. Its name derives from two words that describe its territory: “Rívula” (river bank) and “Torta” (twisting, winding). The winery is also known as “El Pago de la Milla de Oro” (The Golden Mile Estate). The winery lies within an area called the Golden Mile, where many other prestigious winemakers, such as Vega Sicilia, Pingus, and Mauro, are located. The Golden Mile is supposed to possess special climatic conditions and has a long tradition of winemaking. Abadia Retuerta is currently owned by the Swiss company Novartis, a major biotech firm.
Abadia is an interesting fusion of high tech and tradition. Its wine making facility is very modern, utilizing much of the latest technology. But there is also a 12th century monastery on the property. The Santa María de Retuerta Monastery was originally founded in 1145, built during the Christian Re-conquest in the region of Castile. The winery has been restoring much of the monastery. Renovations have also begun to create a high-end hotel and restaurant.
The winery was designed by famous French enologist, Pascal Delbeck, who continues to consult with the winery. The current winemaker is Angel Anocíbar Beloqui. One interesting aspect of their wine making is that gravity, rather than pumps, are used to transport the grapes and juice.
The winery has over 200 hectares of vineyards, broken down into 54 different plots identified according to soil composition, orientation, varietal, and temperature. They are considered similar to “climats” or “crus” in Burgundy. Each plot is separately analysed, controlled, vinified, planted and tasted. This allows Abadía to best embody terroir into their wines. About 75% of the estate is planted with Tempranillo, 20% with Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% with Merlot and there are also small amounts of Syrah and Petit Verdot.
Abadia even has their own blog though they only post a few times each month. You might want to take a look at their contest on their blog which ends at the end of October. You could wine some of their new wine-infused salts.
We had our wine tasting in the monastery's old dining hall. They provided us some food to nibble on with the wines.
Our first wine was the 2004 Abadia Retuerta Rivola. This wine is a blend of 60% Tempranillo and 40% Cabernet Sauvignon. It also spends 12 months in oak and only has an alcohol content of 13%. It has a dark red color and a very aromatic nose, with intense fruit. On the palate it also has a lot of fruit up front, especially bright cherry flavors. It is a very smooth, easy drinking wine. An excellent every day, value wine that usually costs under $20.
The next wine was the 2004 Abadia Retuerta Seleccion Especial. This wine is a blend of 75% Tempranillo, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Merlot. It is made from a selection of the best grapes from their 54 plots. The wine spends 18 months in oak and has an alcohol content of 14%. It spends 1/3 of its time in American oak, 1/3 in new French oak and 1/3 in used French oak. This wine also has a dark red color and a very aromatic nose though I got more spice, like cinnamon rather than fruit. The wine has a richer body than the Rivola. On the palate, it has a good balance between fruit and spice. It is a very smooth wine, with mild tannins. It has a fairly long finish. It has more character than the Rivola and would benefit from drinking with food. This wine retails around $25 and is also a good value. You get more complexity than the Rivola for the added price.
The 2003 Abadia Retuerta Cuvee Palomar is a blend of 50%Tempranillo and 50% Cabernet Sauvignon. It spends 18 months in oak, all French, and has an alcohol content of 14%. This wine is even darker in color than the previous two wines. This is a full bodied, powerful wine with more dark berry flavors and intense spice. I even get some licorice on the lingering finish. The tannins are smooth and this wine would go well with wild game or even a steak. It is an excellent wine.
Abadia Retuerta makes three Estate or "Pago" Wines, including the Negralada, Garduna and Petit Verdot. Each is of limited production and are more expensive than their other wines. Each wine is also 100% of their respective varietals, Tempranillo, Syrah and Petit Verdot. We had the opportunity to taste the Negralada.
The 2003 Abadia Retuerta Pago Negralada is a single varietal Tempranillo and only under 600 cases are made. The wine spends two years in new French oak and has an alcohol content of 14.5%. This is a WOW wine, an exceptional wine that really impressed me. It has a very dark almost purple color, It is a full bodied wine that is silky, smooth and enticing to the palate. There is a melange of flavors, from dark fruits to spices and minerals. It is a wine to ponder over, to try to discern all the different flavors that mesh so well together. It has a very long finish. If you want to know the potential of Tempranillo, this wine certainly shows its potential. I would highly recommend this wine. It is expensive but you also get a very high quality wine making it worth the price.
While at the winery, I also bought some of their new wine-infused salts which I previously mentioned here. The two salts included a Tempranillo infused salt with their Negralada and a Syrah infused salt from their Garduña. I bought both kinds though only have tried the Tempranillo salt so far. We used it on some steak tips and enjoyed it. They do have a nice wine flavor and certainly added to the flavor of the meat. Will definitely use them in other dishes, especially maybe some poultry and veal. As I mentioned above, check out their blog and enter their contest to try to wine some of their salts. Currently the salts are only available in their winery.
Our first winery visit went very well. Our guide, Maria Martin, did a good job of explaining about the winery and their wines. I got to taste several very good wines and were able to get the wine salts. Their wines are available in many local stores and I recommend that you try them.