In the last few years, the wineries in the DO Tierra del Vino de Zamora have undergone a profound technological transformation. They are all of the new generation, and more than 200 wine producers in the region have made a strong stance towards responsible and professional winemaking, aiming to obtain high-quality wines. Without a doubt, this is a decisive step for the future of their wines. In addition, a unique point about this DO is that it has one of the highest concentrations of old vineyards in the country, due to the fact that phylloxera was not so damaging in this region.
In Tierra del Vino, vine cultivation and high quality wine production has always been fundamental in the rural economies of the area. In fact, medieval records still exist that document the virtues of the region’s wines, the only region known under the name Tierra del Vino (Land of Wine). Up until well into the twentieth century, vineyards were the only crops farmed and although the effect of phylloxera was not significant in the region, certain factors have contributed to a surge in vineyard cultivation in recent decades.
However, in 1997, a group of wine-makers and producers in the area decided to break this surging trend and take the first steps towards a Denomination of Origin. After more than six years working in qualification and certification of wine, first as Vino de la Tierra and later as Vino de Calidad con Indicación Geográfica, in April 2007 the DO Tierra del Vino de Zamora was recognised.
The DO Tierra del Vino de Zamora is situated between the centre and north-east of Spain, in the south-east of the Zamora region, relatively close to Portugal and within the Autonomous Community of Castilla y León. It covers a total surface area of 1799 km2, which encompasses a total of 56 towns, 46 of which belong to the Zamora region and 10 to the Salamanca region. It lies on both banks of the River Duero, a chief Spanish wine river, and it is traversed from the North to the South by the Roman Silver Route (Camino de Santiago del Sur). The DO currently covers more than 700 hectares of vineyards in which more than 200 wine-growers work and only 6 wineries make their wines.
Climate, Soil and Varieties
The area has an extreme dry continental climate, with very cold winters and hot, dry summers. Average temperatures in winter do not exceed 3ºC and in summer, they reach 23ºC. Rain is scarce and the average annual rainfall hardly reaches 400mm. The region’s average altitude sits at around 750m above sea level. Within the aforementioned limits, the climate varies in the region, losing humidity and rising in temperature as it progresses from the north to the south. The area is free from frost for approximately 190 days a year and the average active period for vegetation spans 210 days. The amount of effective sunlight exposure exceeds 2800 hours a year.
The DO Tierra del Vino de Zamora is crossed by numerous rivers, which would explain why the region’s soil has a distinctive alluvial character. The soil is deep and low in organic material, it is very permeable and has good retention capacity. Deep down, the soil is very clayey. On the plains on the surface, there is a large presence of sand, loose stones start to appear on the slopes, and pebbles predominate at high altitudes.
The white grape varieties permitted in the DO include the Malvasía, Moscatel de grano menudo, Verdejo Albillo, Palomino and Godello, while the allowed red grape varieties include the Tempranillo, Garnacha and Cabernet Sauvignon. The average age of the vineyards registered to the Regulatory Board is estimated at 65 years old. Among the white varieties planted in the DO, the Malvasía stands out at 75%, followed by the Verdejo at 16%. And in terms of the red varieties, the Tempranillo stands out with 88%, followed by the Garnacha with 10%.
Wines and Wineries
In the last few years, Tierra del Vino de Zamora has progressed in such a way that little by little, some of their wineries have positioned their red wines among the most interesting in the market. These include modern blended red wines from their reigning Tempranillo variety with notes that are also present in their excellent rosés. The range is completed with the delicious white wines of Malvasía Castellana and Moscatel de Grano Menudo, complemented by Albillo Real and Godello.
Bodegas Viñas del Cénit is a relatively new winery that released its first wine in 2003. It is situated in Villanueva de Campeán, and mainly consists of old strains planted in the traditional bush system. Even for the younger wines, the raw viticultural product has an average age of 35 years, although the winery also owns a handful of record breaking vines, which are estimated to be between 150 and 180 years old. The majority of these vines were planted ungrafted (pie franco) before phylloxera wreaked havoc in Spain. This is poor earth with a gravelly, sandy surface on a deep clay bed. They make 4 wines: el Cénit, 100% Tempranillo with 19 months in French oak barrels; el Vía Cénit, a Tempranillo crianza with 12 months in the barrel; Cénit VDC, also a Tempranillo with 24 months in French oak barrels; and the Venta Mazarrón, with 8 months in French oak barrels and an abundance of wild strawberries, blackberries and sweet spices.
Bodegas El Soto was born with the 2001 harvest as a cooperative business and is situated in the Campéan region. It has 240 hectares of bush-planted and dry-farmed vineyards, situated between 700 and 850 metres above sea level, where a high proportion of the vines are planted ungrafted, and where 70% of the red grape vineyards are over a hundred years old. They make and market a collection of white and red wines in different categories under the Cuévano and Proclama brands.
Bodegas Alizán, situated in Moraleja del Vino, is another support of the emerging wine region of the Tierra de Zamora. This project, which was founded in 1999, involved modern installations with an ageing, fermentation and bottling room, and 25 hectares of trellis planted vineyards. The Tempranillo is the main variety, and Cabernet and Merlot are also planted as subsidiary varieties. They have a small barrel room containing 500 barrels and an upper limit no greater than 180,000 kilos of grapes. The winery has a collection under the brands Alizán 6 meses, Alizán 12 meses, Alizán Élite, Alizán Selección, Alizán Añada and Alizán Prestigio.
Bodegas Teso Blanco is situated in Cabañas de Sayago, where vineyards and wineries have always been a part of the culture. Nowadays, the winery has found a place in the present day by applying modern oenology and cultivating the vineyards, focusing on making high-quality red wines. Teso Blanco does this with 30 hectares, a small winery with stainless steel tanks and 40 barrels to guarantee fermentations from good quality, bush-planted Tempranillo grapes, which are marketed under the labels Dominio de Sexmil and Dominio de Sexmil Edición Summa.