D.O. Ribera del Duero (Castilla y León)
Wine from winery Montecastro
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D.O. Ribera del Duero (Castilla y León)
More about Montecastro
In its short life, the winery Montecastro has achieved great international prizes and recognitions. In 2003, for example, it received 92 points from The Wine Advocate, and a grading of ‘Excellent’ from Food & Wine, another of the reference publications on the market. Just one year later, with the 2004 vintage, Parker raised its score up to 94 points and since then, Montecastro has received continuous awards. In June of 2010, in a ranking carried out by The International Wine Review, the Montecastro 2005 vintage reached 94 points and the second position of the podium, right behind Bodegas Aalto, and ahead of Vega Sicilia, Bodegas Emilio Moro, Pingus, Matarromera or Pago de Carraovejas, among many other companies of Ribera del Duero. However, despite their success, they did not manage to consolidate the brand enough to resist the economic crisis. Therefore, in 2012, Bodegas Hacienda Monasterio joined the shareholding of Montecastro, taking on its technical, winemaking and marketing direction. In 2015, Hacienda Monasterio launched its first vintage: Montecastro Cosecha 2012.
History of the winery
The winery is located in the surroundings of Castrillo de Duero, in the province of Valladolid. This winery has a modern design, created in 2002 by the prestigious architect, Roberto Valle, in harmony with the environment. Just as he did in Castillo de Peñafiel for the museum of wine, where he combined several elements found in the area, like white limestone, corten steel, glass, concrete and wood, and the best technology for the production of quality wines.
Currently, Bodegas Montecastro has 27 hectares of vineyards, planted with 90% Tinto Fino, 5% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Merlot, located in the province of Valladolid (Castrillo de Duero) bordering with Burgos and at one of the highest points of the province and even of Ribera del Duero. The vineyards are situated between 860 and 923 metres above sea level. This is one of the great features of the Montecastro vineyard that provides freshness, protects from the heat and enable a slower ripening because, at this height, the temperatures decrease in comparison to the valley, there is more sun exposure, and there is a specific wind current within the continental climate of Ribera del Duero. The vineyards are divided into 8 plots and 5 farms, depending on their altitude and type of soil. There are several kinds of soils, but the prevailing one is the calcareous type, with parent rock, black silt, boulders and a calcareous deeper layer, something that is unusual at 870 metres of altitude.
Their viticulture is carried out with respect for nature. The winery is currently converting to organic agriculture, using their own controlled fertilisers and without using systemic agents nor irrigation. The entire plantation has been performed with a strict selection of clones of Tempranillo, searching for the best ones in the area of the Tinto Fino and Tinto Aragonés. For the Cabernet Sauvignon and the Merlot, they have chosen clones from Bordeaux, which are most adjusted to the climate of Ribera del Duero.
The technical direction is in the hands of Carlos de la Fuente, a great connoisseur of Ribera del Duero, and an oenologist who is considered the right-hand man of Peter Sisseck. Among the technical staff of the winery we can also find Francisco Núñez, an agricultural technical engineer with a postgraduate degree in Technical Oenology. Since 2000 and until 2005 he worked as the technical manager of the winery at Quinta de la Quietud (Toro). In 2006, he joined Bodegas Montecastro. Guillermo Laguna is an Oenologist and Agricultural Technical Engineer, and he is a founding member of ATEVICAL (Association of Viticulture Technicians of Castilla y León). He has given many courses on viticulture, sustainability and new technologies applied to the land and the vineyard. In 2000, he joined the vine growing branch of the family company until 2006. Then, he became the manager of Bodegas Luan in Manchuela, until in 2007 he joined Hacienda Monasterio.
Carlos de La Fuente started his career with Peter Sisseck in Hacienda Monasterio, in 1991. He continues to work here as a second oenologist. He has a master’s degree in viticulture, oenology and management of wineries. He has also taken several courses focused on wine research and vineyard work, especially the soils (INRA Mompellier 2000). His entire professional career is oriented towards Ribera del Duero, next to Peter Sisseck, in the fields of viticulture, winery and tasting. After completing her studies in Economics and International Commerce from the University of Lille III (France), Chrystelle Moran, moved from Bordeaux to Spain and started her professional trajectory in the wine industry. In 2009, the joined Bodegas Hacienda Monasterio as the Commercial Manager for the national market. Apart from her duties in Bodegas Hacienda Monasterio, in 2015 she took on the commercial development of Bodegas Montecastro, also for the national market. Carlos Del Río has a degree in Business Management and Administration from CUNEF. During his studies, he carried out work practice with Hacienda Monasterio in the USA and Latin America. When he finished his studies, he went to Chile, where he became the Commercial Manager of Viña Koyle. In 2015, he returned from Chile and became the Commercial Manager of Bodegas Montecastro.
The cultivation frame of the vineyards of Montecastro is of 2.5 x 1 m, which implies a plantation density of 4000 vines per hectare. This high density enables them to achieve a low yield per plant, thus increasing the quality of the grapes. The whole cultivation surface area is dry land, and it is located in the municipalities of Olmos and Castrillo de Duero. The soils are mostly ‘light’ and stony, with some plots in lower areas or hollows with a ‘stronger’ soils. This means that not all the vineyards are cultivated the same, since the vigour and potential of them are very different. The vineyard is not registered as Organic Vineyard, but their cultivation is indeed organic. Weeds are treated exclusively using mechanical methods, with tractors or by hand, and they do not use herbicides or chemical products. As for plant health, they manage to work with the natural balance of the vines to avoid excess vigour that could lead to a fungal attack caused by too much vegetation, or the weakening of the plant, which would make if more sensitive to pests and wood fungi. This is why green treatments and the individual care of each plot and plant are very important, observing their needs and acting in consequence.
On the other hand, the production process starts with a 100% manual harvest in 12-kg boxes that are sent to the winery on the same day. They try to take the grapes to the winery when they are cool, but if the harvest is carried out in hot weather, the grapes are refrigerated. They are selected on a table and some of them are destemmed depending on the type of grape since at Montecastro they use the stems in the production to introduce the whole grapes in the deposits without pumping. This allows them to prevent the extraction of bad-quality tannins. They cool the grapes and try to start the fermentation slowly with local yeasts, as well as with very gentle pump overs to preserve the quality of the tannins. This is carried out at low temperatures with relatively long macerations, enhancing the fruit and creating complexity. The malolactic fermentation is natural and controlled, with 10% of the wine in barrels and 90% in concrete deposits. Then, the wine is transferred to new and semi-new Bordeaux barrels, made of French oak (80%), American oak (20%) and oak from Eastern countries (5%), and then it rests on its lees for six months. The wine remains in the barrels between 16 and 20 months, depending on the harvest. Then it spends 3 or 4 months in concrete deposits, where it is harmonised before being bottled. During the ageing they carry out several rackings. This way, they prevent clarification, since they achieve a good natural cleansing of the wine. During bottling, they have a strict microbiological protocol for the control of the wine. This way, bottling is carried out respectfully, without harsh filtrations, respecting the tannins and the fruit.
Wines from Montecastro
Below is the list of wines made by Montecastro:
Alconte is made with Tinto Fino grapes for the youngest vineyard, or the one that does not meet the quality requirements of Montecastro due to climate reasons. It ages between 12 and 14 months in French oak (75% approx.) and American oak (25% approx.), a third of which is new. On the nose, it has red and black fruit with light balsamic notes. In the mouth, it offers an excellent fruit intensity, enveloping and powerful at the same time, with rich tannins.
Montecastro is almost exclusively made with Tinto Tino, although some vintages may have small amounts of Cabernet Sauvignon and even Merlot. This wine is aged for an average of 18 to 20 months in French oak (80%) and American oak. On the nose, it is expressive and complex, with a great intensity of red fruit, notes of undergrowth and a mineral touch. In the mouth, it has an ample entry, enveloping, juicy, with ripe fruit that gives it meatiness. The mid-palate has a lot of structure and elegance. A very attractive acidity and a very amiable and balanced tannin.
Montecastro “La Roca” is only made in very special harvests. In 2012, it was made with 90% Tinto Fino, 6% Merlot, 3% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 1% Grenache. It was aged for 18 months in barrels made of French oak from Allier, 60% new and 40% of second-use.