Val Sotillo, "Finca Buenavista," Ribera del Duero 2017
Tempranillo｜Ribera del Duero, Spain
Time and again, Spain shows itself to be one of the most exciting, best-valued countries in the wine world, as further evidenced by this gorgeous 91-point red for a mere $20 + free nationwide shipping!
Bodegas Val Sotillo's story begins in the modern day, with Ismael Arroyo’s first vintage in 1979, in Burgos, part of the Castilla Y León region. This was also a monumental period in Spain’s history: just the year prior the Constitution of 1978 was ratified, paving the way for the modern Republic era following the fall of Franco’s nationalist regime.
Arroyo’s family story, however, goes back another 400 years of making wine in this historic region. He settled in the small village of Sotillo de Ribera, considered the heart of the Ribera del Duero region. His foresight was rewarded, as Sotillo is part of a strip of land now considered the “Rodeo Drive” of the region. Just three years after his first vintage he would become one of the most influential figures in advocating for the region’s official recognition in 1982.
Their "Finca Buenavista" is 100% Tempranillo, fermented in steel tank and aged for six months in barrel, making this technically a "crianza" aged designation.
It strikes that perfect, elusive balance between bright floral freshness and deep, plum-defined fruit flavors that are so textbook Tempranillo. Black licorice, balsam, green tobacco, and earthy plum commingle with purple flowers (think violets and lilacs), spice, and sandalwood. Lamb burgers from the grill never had it so good!
And boy does this wine certainly overdeliver – Decanter gives this wine 91 points:
"The palate is big and rich but restrained, with nice balancing freshness and a touch of creaminess from well-judged oak."
All the vineyards are farmed to exacting standards – bush-trained vines of Tinta del País (the local name for Tempranillo) of up to 90+ years old are tended by hand, harvested by hand in small baskets, and gently transferred to tank for fermentation. The wines age for two years in barrel and aged at least another year in bottle before release.
Above ground, Ribera del Duero looks like an unassuming, pastoral landscape in Castilla Y León. The region’s secrets, however, lie beneath: kilometers of underground tunnels and caves dating back to the 16th century snake underneath Arroyo’s estate, carved into the hillside. Ismael expanded and reinforced the caves, where he ferments and ages the wines in these cool, dark cellars.
If you enjoy the wines of Ribera, you have Ismael Arroyo to thank for his pioneering work and this spicy, lovely Spanish red!