With an exceptional location in the "golden mile" of Ribera del Duero, next to the vineyards of Vega Sicilia, Abadía Retuerta, which is now part of the Novartis group, is not included in D.O. Ribera del Duero as it is just outside its limits, in the town of Sardón de Duero. This allows them to use varieties that are not admitted by the Regulatory Council of this denomination, and to produce wines of marked character, expressive, amiable, with their own style, modern and innovative, and with the unmistakable seal of Abadía Retuerta.
In 1145, the union of aristocracy and devotion gave rise to the Abbey when Mrs. Mayor, daughter of the Earl of Ansúrez, donated "tierras et vineas" to the Church. The Abbey of Santa María de Retuerta was built for the order of the Premonstratensians, with a Baroque and Romanesque style, a classic Benedictine floor with a church, a cloister, a refectory, a chapter hall and a guesthouse. It is one of the only two abbeys with these features that survived the Napoleonic destruction. It was declared of Cultural Interest by the Spanish state.
Santa María de Retuerta is located in Sardón de Duero, on the border with D.O. Ribera del Duero, where part of the farm is within the limits of the denomination. It is one of the historical farms of the area. In 1990, the pharmaceutical company Sandoz, now part of the international group Novartis, acquired the building, the land and the vineyards. However, it is from 1996, with the financial surge of the pharmaceutical group, when Abadía Retuerta's ambitious winemaking project began.
However, for geographical reasons, the winery is not included in D.O. Ribera de Duero, although it is right on its limits and in the epicentre of the so-called winemaking golden mile. With approximately 30 km, it includes the wineries Vega Sicilia, Pingus, Mauro, Aalto, Protos, Teófilo Reyes, Hacienda Monasterio, Abadía Retuerta itself, and some others. In Spain, denominations of origin are classified by villages, not by land. Therefore, in 1982 when they performed the territorial demarcation of D.O. Ribera del Duero, the village of Sardón was not included.
The new owners carried out an exhaustive renovation of the monastic complex, adapting part of its facilities for their own use and convenience. However, it was in 2008 when they carried out the new renovation works in what was the chapter hall, until it became what it is today, Le Domaine, a luxury 5-star hotel with its own restaurant. They have the advice of Andoni Luis Aduriz, who has a Michelin star in Mugaritz (Errenteria - Gipuzkoa). The hotel has been conceived to be a top-class wine tourism reference and occupy a high place in the segment of super-luxury hotels in Spain. It has 18 luxurious double rooms and three excellent suites, equipped with contemporary furniture that provides maximum comfort to its guests. It also has a business centre with meeting rooms and offers a range of services including the gym and the yoga room. It stands out for its beautiful and quiet garden museum, located outside the abbey, with works by the German sculptor Ulrich Rückriem, with an avant-garde style, in perfect contrast with the ancient stone of the historic building.
History of the winery
One of the key people to carry out the winemaking project in Abadía Retuertawas Pascal Delbeck, a person who was ahead of his times, and who chose to implement the hidden winery, which was organic, integrated among the pine trees, with very little energy consumption, etc. This went against the ostentation of those years, in which it was the trend to build it where it stood out the most.
Pascal was the owner of Château Ausone and Château Belair, and he currently owns Château Tour du Pas-Saint-Georges, in Saint-Georges Saint-Emilion. The French oenologist supervised the planting and the production of the first vintages. He now continues to be an advisor in Abadía Retuerta. However, the daily management of the winery has been in the hands of Angel Anocíbar for quite some time. He has demonstrated a great ability to give the farm its old winemaking splendour.
Abadía Retuerta was launched in 1996, but the vineyard plantations are from 1991 to 1994. The vineyard, which is divided to the millimetre, is distributed on hillsides that descend to the Duero. The Tempranillo is the star variety, but also the French varieties Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah and Petit Verdot, Sauvignon Blanc, as well as some Grenache, Tauriga National, Verdejo and Godello.
After the required wait, the first wine from Abadía Retuerta was launched on the market under the label of Primicia. Nevertheless, the winery's history says that since 1878 there was a vineyard in an area of a lot of underground water. In 1974 or 1978, this area was shared with Vega Sicilia, which is only 9 km away. These climbing vines were discovered when a pine forest was cleared. In 2007 they were pruned to give vigour to these vines and get new shoots which were later transformed into plants. In 2010 they called a nursery gardener, who recorded the origin of the vine shoots. They took six plants, six clones. In 2012 they performed the first grafted plantation in espalier, and in 2014 the first harvest was achieved from this vineyard.
Initially, a lot of Tempranillo and quite a lot of Merlot were planted, although the latter was replanted in another plot. A curious fact about this plot is that the nursery gardeners were wrong when making the selection and, instead of Merlot, they planted 900 plants of Sauvignon Blanc, from which they produced their white wine Le Domaine. The variety has adjusted very well to the area, the reason why they take advantage of the shoots to graft more of the plantation, which was also extended with some Verdejo. Cabernet Sauvignon has also been reduced in favour of the Syrah variety. It has also been extended with some Godello, where each plot, each soil, each climate and microclimate provides them with different features.
In 1996 they began to classify the soils. All the farms were divided according to the change of variety, soil and altitude, and the vineyards were treated separately considering their vinification, which was also individualised.
Abadía Retuerta is committed to a sustainable and organic agriculture, but not to the maximum extent. They only carry this out when it is possible. Anocíbar do not hesitate to say that they use fungicides or other treatments when the vintage requires it.
The lower vineyards are planted at a height of 700 metres above sea level, reaching 850 metres. This gives them their own features, as well as low yields, similar to those in areas such as Bordeaux. The climatic conditions are also quite extreme in the area, especially regarding temperature changes between the day and the night. This produces a unique fruit from these vineyards. These differences in temperature, as well as the rainfall of the area, and the adjustment of the grape varieties to the conditions of each terrain, lead to different decisions in the vineyard and in the winery, making them depending on the requirements of each plot.
The winery uses small deposits hanging from cranes to work using gravity. This method is thought to be able to vinify the different farms separately. For the ageing, their preferred method is the use of French oak.
Quality control is the fundamental pillar of Abadía Retuerta. They promote the use of own yeasts, controlling the micro-organisms present in the wine and trying to avoid undesirable species from taking over.
Also, due to the characteristics of the area, the annual rainfall can change. Therefore, in Abadía Retuerta they study the ground's water reserve, which is a much more determining factor than knowing the litres rained per square metre every year. The control they perform is so exhaustive, that even morning due is considered when they carry out their study.
Another common practice of the technical team is the clearing the grape bunches that have not ripened correctly due to the rainy and cold months of May and June.
In spite of the exemplary nature of the winemaking applied in Abadía Retuerta , one of the concerns of Anocíbar is the alcoholic level that wines are reaching, generally all around Spain. This is why they have being experimented with grape varieties with a phenolic repining that is more on the line of alcoholic ripening, since at Abadía Retuerta they reject the idea that they are trying to achieve higher alcohol volume in their modern wines, due to market demand or trend.
Wines from the winery Abadía Retuerta
Le Domaine is Abadía Retuerta's white wine, and the only wine that has not been carefully planned from the vineyard. This wine was created by mistake, because the replanting of a plot of Merlot was replanted with cuttings of the white variety Sauvignon Blanc, of French origin. The first Le Domaine vintage was launched on the market with the 2011 harvest. It is made from Sauvignon Blanc and some Verdejo, as well as small amounts of other white varieties such as Godello, Riesling and Gewürztraminer, all planted in a particularly sunny farm, on soils with sand and pebbles. This wine is aged in barrels for five months, but it has a very young presence, with notes of white fruit, citric hints and a background of smoky tones. In the mouth, it combines the freshness of its good acidity with a unctuous texture that makes it quite easy to drink. In this wine they seek a specific profile, with certain seriousness and ageing ability.
Abadía Retuerta Selección Especial is the flagship wine of the winery. It is made from a selection of the best grapes of each farm. It combines the richness of the Tempranillo, the intensity of the Syrah and the elegance of the Cabernet Sauvignon. It ages between 16 and 22 months in French and American oak barrels, where the wood gives this wine notes of cedar and roasting, with a clean, complex and fresh nose, and an intense fruity touch of red fruits.
Abadía Retuerta Pago Negralada is a commitment to terroir wines. It comes from a Tempranillo vineyard planted on deep gravel soils with sand on the surface, which give this wine a firm and tannic personality. It has developed its full potential after nearly two years of ageing in new French oak barrels. Its excellent maturity stands out, with fragrant aromas of strawberry, liquorice, aromatic herbs and mineral notes. In the mouth its silky tannins are the highlight.
Abadía Retuerta Pago Garduña is made only from the Syrah variety, planted on white and bright limestone soil, in a valley surrounded by pine trees that protect the vines from the winds. As a result, these grapes have a high concentration of sugars and a perfect ripening. It is aged for 18 months in new French barrels that give it balsamic and toasted notes, alongside a spicy and floral bouquet, with an explosion of red fruit. Smooth and elegant in the mouth. It is an expressive, powerful, persistent and very balanced wine. Some vintages have managed to attain up to 94 points in the American magazine Wine Spectator, as well as several gold medals at international competitions.
Abadía Retuerta Pago Valdebellón is made exclusively from Cabernet Sauvignon, from a calcareous terroir that benefits from a unique microclimate. After a complete maceration, it has rested in new French oak barrels for 16 months. The result is an intense dark red wine that, despite its body, gives off a delicate air of sweet spices, exotic fruits and mineral aromas. As a whole, it is a complex and generous wine that has managed to achieve 97 points in Wine Advocate, a publication by renowned American critic, Robert Parker.
Abadía Retuerta PV (Petit Verdot) is a varietal of Petit Verdot.The climate of the area, the particular terroir with predominantly sandy soil and the 24 months of ageing in barrels, give this wine a unique character. Fine, elegant and subtle on the nose, with touches of mocha. In the mouth it is soft and unctuous, with intense flavours of fresh fruit and jam, with hints of roasted coffee, tobacco smoke, burnt caramel and crusty bread. With a firm and structured body. It has a long, silky and warm finish.
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