Bodegas Resalte de Penafiel
Wines from among the most celebrated up-and-coming growing regions in Spain
All anyone has to do to insure the quality of many recent Spanish wines is check their scores in really top-flight international competitions. Once relegated to the lower levels of wine quality, a number of Spanish wines are now at an equal level to most of their European counterparts. Take into account the extremely high ratings these wines receive in American periodicals and the case for Spanish quality is firmly established.
This month’s Diamond Wine Club selection, the Resalte de Peñafiel’s Gran Resalte 2000, is a perfect example of Spain’s rise to near the top of the wine ladder. The winery is less than ten years old, and was started by a multinational company who wanted to diversify from its business of sprinkler irrigation and aluminum profiles. The owners of the company had great passion for wines and decided to build a new, state-of- the-art facility in the colorful town of Peñafiel. Peñafiel is considered the heart of the Ribera del Duero, arguably Spain’s top wine producing region and certainly the nation’s hottest when it comes to emerging wineries. The famous river of the same name makes its way through Spain’s splendid vineyards and provides a good portion of the country’s finest grapes until it winds its way westward into Portugal and eventually the Atlantic Ocean. Geographically, the Ribera del Duero is west of the famous Rioja growing area, which until recently was considered Spain’s most storied wine producing region.
The word resalte literally means outstanding in Spanish, or something that is on the top of something else. In this case, Peñafiel is the home of a famous old castle on top of a significant hill that today serves as the Museum of Wine. The logo on the bottle is of one of the castle’s famous towers, and is intended to represent the museum and also the region of the Ribera del Duero.
“We all wanted a name and a logo that was truly representative of our wonderful growing area and our historical background,” offered Ferran Tapias, son of one of the owners of the company. “We also wanted the name to sound good in other languages, so resalte was chosen for the honor.”
The Gran Resalte is the company’s top wine and has garnered numerous international prizes in its short lifespan. The wine is made solely from Tempranillo grapes, Spain’s greatest natural grape source and the equivalent to Cabernet Sauvignon in California and Bordeaux. Tempranillo has emerged in recent years as a top producer of quality wines after spending many centuries producing basic wines the Spanish were famous for and which were exported to numerous European countries.
The Resalte de Peñafiel’s first release came in 2000, and consisted of around 11,000 cases. Production has risen in the succeeding years and will amount to about 17,000 cases for this year. The case production is still very small by Spanish standards, but in line with a new wave of smaller, boutique-like wineries that are raising eyes worldwide in addition to elevating the overall standard and reputation of Spanish wines.
Instead of growing their own vines, the Resalte de Peñafiel draws upon a number of well-established growers whose vineyards have earned their reputations over many decades. To be considered for purchase, the vines must be from 15 to 60 years of age without any growing problems.
“We went to many growers that have different micro-weather conditions that affect the vines in different ways,” Tapias added. “It was also quite important to us that these vineyards were well-known and contained mostly older plants. In that way, we knew from the beginning that we were buying the best quality grapes that were available.”
The winemaking chores at Resalte de Peñafiel are handled by Jesus Herranz, a young winemaker that has already made his reputation on the world stage. Herranz utilizes modern technology along with his expertise within different Spanish appellations to produce his award winning wines.
The wines of Resalte de Peñafiel are intended to maintain a strong fruit flavor that accent the right combination of oak and bottle age. This is different from the classic wines of the Ribera del Duero that allow a good deal more oak on the finish and that affects the wine for its entire life.
It is rare that a wine such as the Gran Resalte 2000 becomes available while the winery is still in its embryonic stages. Too often, wines such as this are long gone before the winery achieves stardom.
Map of the area
Wine Regions of Spain
Spain is a large country geographically and has more acreage under grape cultivation than any other country in the world. Overall, Spain is the third largest in terms of world-wide wine production and grapes are grown throughout every region of the country. Since the 1950’s, Spain’s winemakers have worked steadily to improve quality and with their entry into the European Union, new legal standards for wine were put in place. Today, a new generation of winemakers have quietly begun crafting spectacular wines and experimenting with varietals that would have been unthinkable only a short time ago. Wine remains an important commodity and an integral part of Spanish culture. The major wine regions are pointed out above.