Tierra de León

The DO Tierra de León is one of the latest DO’s to be officially established in Spain. The native Prieto Picudo grape variety is what helps set this region apart from anywhere else. Aside from the classic wines made using the ancient ‘madreo’ technique, with their semi sparkling rosé wines of the regionthis native variety also produces good quality young and aged red wines; very aromatic, with a wide persistence in the mouth, as well as a natural acidity that provides the wine with a strong freshness. The wines produced here are a reflection of the land on which they are born and the climate, with a sense of authenticity and a uniqueness of the region.

During the Roman times, the southern zone of León (the current production area of the D.O Tierra de León) became a transit area for travellers passing through the two great routes: the Ruta de Pala and the Way of St. James, the latter of which became the wine supplier to practically all of the northern Iberian Peninsula.

Around the 10th century, the main economic activities of the region were cereal production and milling. Fortunately there were many monasteries in the area, who were responsible for the revival of viticulture in the area, through the acquisition of land which they dedicated to the cultivation of vines.

From the middle ages on, production increased steadily over the centuries until 1887 which is when the phylloxera virus destroyed most of the vineyards of the area. Production did not pick up again until the 1920s, when a group of cooperatives and wineries in the zone of Valdevimbre, Los Oteros, Cea, began to first steps on what would become a professional association of wine growers, processors and bottlers, whose main objective was to obtain DO status for the region’s wine.

But it wasn´t until April 1997 when the statutes by the Department of Labour of the Government of Castilla y León allowed the use of the “Vino de la Tierra” classification for vintners, winemakers and bottlers, under the “Vino de la Tierra Valdevimbre – Los Oteros”. However, given the vast geographical area of the region, many did not identify with the name “Valdevimbre- Los Oteros”, which led to the “Vino de la Tierra de Castilla y León” classification in 2000. Like a DO, this would enable wineries in the region to have a certification of quality with a geographic indication.  It would then be seven years later that the DO Tierra de León was officially established and recognised.

The DO Tierra de León is situated in the northeast of Spain, in the southern Eastern corner of the Province of León, integrating part of the province of Valladolid and bordered by the provinces of Zamora and Palencia. The DO is currently home to 1,300 hectares of vineyards that are worked by 380 registered winemakers and 38 wineries. One of the defining characteristics of the of the region is the existence of wineries in rocky caves, either in excavated spaces in small hillocks or headlands of the clay soils, taking advantage of the slopes and forming spaces, inside of which a micro-climate is created which is ideal for the production and development of the renowned  vino de aguja. The madreo technique is a system where whole grapes are added to the wine during fermentation,to produce a carbonic maceration with partial release of carbon. Some wineries in the region continue to produce their rosés using this method.


Climate, Soils and Varieties.

We would expect the influence of the Atlantic and the north to soften temperatures and cause abundant rainfall, but the high altitude of the plateau where the DO Tierra is situated, as well as its border with the mountainous terrain of the Cantabrian mountain range, modify the characteristics of the local climate, with actually experiences a strong continental influence, with a rigorous and lengthy winter period with persistent fogs and frosts, although at no point do temperatures drop below -15ºC, the coldest limit for the cultivation of vines.

The spring period is rather irregular, alternating between mild temperatures and the dreaded spring frosts, although this does not in no case is this a limiting factor in the cultivation of the vines. The summer period is also irregular, alternating between periods that are torrid and arid with others that are cooler and milder, with the hottest months having an average temperature of around 20ºC (necessary for the flowering period of the vine). Autumn is generally mild and rainy, which is ideal for the final stage of ripening. It is also worth noting the extreme temperature differences between day and night, ideal for the accumulation of the grape polyphenols and enhancing the aromas. Average annual rainfall is around 500mm, spread during the summer and autumn periods, which means that the vineyards to not require watering, only during certain years. The region also experiences high insolation, with on average 2,700 hours of sunshine annually, which helps favour uniform ripening of the grapes. 

The vineyards in the region grow in the Leonese plains, all located under the 900m high. The region is home to alluvial soils planted on terraces, both on stony brown deposits, such as limestone on soft materials. They are soils with excellent conditions internal drainage, with acceptable water retention capacity, ease of aeration and root penetration, low mineral salt content, depth, appropriate content of limestone and poor in organic matter.

In regards to grape varieties, the Regulatory Council of the DO Tierra de León authorises the cultivation of the white varieties Albarín (which covers 5% of the vineyards in the region), Verdejo (15%), Godello (5%), Palomino (2%), Malvasia (1%), as well as the red varieties Prieto Pecudo (occupying 60% of the vineyards in the DO), followed by Mencia (17%), Tempranillo (12%), Garnacha Tinta (2%).


Wines and Wineries of the DO Tierra de León.

There is a wide range of styles and varieties of wines produced under the DO Tierra de León, from white, rosé and red wines. However, it remains clear that the region is still dominated by the Prieto Picudo variety, a rough and rustic grape. Wines produced with this variety require time and oxygenation, and it remains one of the main challenges for many winemakers in the area. 

However, it is also true that it is the unique character of this grape that offers the appeal that identifies and distinguishes wines from the region. The grape manages to maintain its primary aromas while also pondering to the softness with work in the wood, with each winery offering a different style and experience. In general, these are wines with distinctive features since during its stay in the barrel, the Prieto Picudo variety does not lose its freshness or fruitiness, but gains a certain pleasantness.

Wines produced in the region include El Músico, produced by Leyenda del Páramo, aged for 12 months; Pricum, by the Margón winery, aged for 14 months in the barrel, work of the renowned oenologist Raúl Pérez, technical director at the winery; 3 Palomares Crianza, produced by the Bodegas los Palomares, aged for 12 months in American oak barrels, as well as Don Suero Crianca from the Bodegas Vinos de León, where century-old vineyards are mixed with 13 year old strains; Gamonal, aged for 8 months in French and American oak barrels; and the single estate wine Carroleón, which is aged for 15 months in new barrels.g

Then there is the white Albarín variety, another native variety that was only recently rediscovered in Valencia de Don Juan. Already there are some wineries producing wines with this variety. It is worth noting that of the 80 hectares of Albarín vineyards grown in Spain, 45 hectares grow under the DO Tierra de León. Although its name leads people to believe it is related to the Albariño variety, they have nothing to do with eacher. The Albarín variety is floral and citrusy, and has a good resistance to diseases. Pardevalles is one of the wineries that has opted to use this variety, and is home to 10 hectares of Albarín vineyards, where they produce a fresh, exotic wine that is not sweet and has a good acidity. Then there is Gordonzallo, a prominent company within the area, with 205 hectares of vineyards and an annual production of 900,000 bottles. The winery produces 11 types of wine, including their signature white wine Peregrino Albarín, a tropical, fruity wine that comes alive in the mouth. Then there is Tampesta, fermented on the lees, remains for three months in barrels, it is complex, with notes of white fruits, chamomile and a balanced acidity. And finally Pricum Albarín Barrica, produced by Raúl Pérez with only 2,500 bottles produced per vintage. This wine is fermented in French oak barrels with its lees, it is rich and pleasant, and does not lose any freshness. Ultimately, it is the raw materials and the character of the terroir which defines each producer. 

Wineries belonging to the D.O Tierra de León:

Outstanding wines from the D.O. Tierra de León:

  • Pricum Rosado 2013

    Rosé wine Young. Volume: 75 cl. Winery: Margón. Production area: Tierra de León. Grapes used in this wine: Prieto Picudo.

    8,20 VAT incl.
    7,80 €/u
    Pricum Rosado 2013

    Rosé wine Young. Volume: 75 cl. Winery: Margón. Production area: Tierra de León. Grapes used in this wine: Prieto Picudo.

    8,20 VAT incl.
    7,80 €/u

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