Resalte de Penafiel


94 Points - Wine Spectator

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 Series 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.

A salute to three of Spain's most distinguished world-class wine producers, from among the most celebrated up and coming growing regions of the country.

Bodegas Resalte de Penafiel

The Bodegas Resalte de Penafiel as the name suggests is situated in the village of Penafiel, which in turn is located in the very heart of the of Ribera del Duero DO. It is situated some 56 Km. from the city of Valladolid, which is the capital of the region of Castilla & Leon and is located near the area’s center. The entire area is an elevated plain that is framed by mountain ranges from the east and south and is fed by the incredibly picturesque Duero River as it winds it way towards Portugal.

The winery is one of the new boutique-style wineries in the region. It was built in 2000 with ultra modern features. Resalte de Penafiel is the only winery in the region that utilizes gravity-fed juices for all of its production. Located on 80 hectares (a little over 197 acres), its vineyards are between 15 and 60 years old, a common age for vines in the area. Approximately 70% of its wines are made from the older vines, a fact that insures continuing quality.

Resalte de Penafiel’s first release came in 2003 and has catapulted the winery into international prominence with exceptional scores and awards. The company’s annual production is around 25,000 cases, still on the small side according to Spanish standards.

The company’s striking logo symbolizes the highest battlements of the famous castle of Penafiel, the ongoing historic symbol of the city.

Bodega Pardo Tolosa

Recently, noted industrialist and Pardo Tolosa President, Francisco Pardo, was quoted in an interview to the effect that his new winery, despite its recent creation, combines "technology and traditional methods of growing grapes to enhance the characteristics of quality vineyards. In this way, modernity is placed at the service of creating a traditional wine with personality, a real wine.” Such it is with the new wave of Spanish vintners, who seek to preserve some of their old ways aided by the modern trappings of a state-of-the-art winery.

Situated in the town of Albacete Alborea in the Manchuela DO area of the Castilla La Mancha growing region, the Bodega Pardo Tolosa is also an 80-hectare growing operation with a modernistic winery building. Its growing area that completely surrounds the winery is gently undulating and is well-known for low yields, a fact that actually aids the overall quality of its wines. Must of Bodega Pardo Tolosa’s emphasis is on its old vines (some are 60-80 years old) and the incredible quality juice the grapes produce. These vines are located at a height of more than 700 meters above sea level and benefit from their proximity to the cooling breezes of the Mediterranean.

Guided by noted Spanish winemaker Luis Jimenez, Bodega Pardo Tolosa has already made a mark on the international scene with excellent scores and top awards.

Bodega Alvarez y Diez

Compared to the other featured wineries, Bodega Alvarez y Diez is an old timer having been built in 1941. It rests in part of the Duero River Basin, and is mostly planted to the venerable Verdejo grape that traces its ancestry back to the 11th Century and the reign of King Alfonso VI. It is part of the Rueda Region that has been responsible for a great deal of renewed interest in Spanish wines and in particular wines from this specific area.

Brothers Alvaro and Juan de Benito are the second-generation owners of the winery and have devoted a great deal of their time to improving their dominant estate. A 1997 renovation installed new equipment and modern techniques and allowed Bodega Alvarez y Diez a new lease on life. All barrels are stored in ancient underground caves for perfect temperature control and the hilly, undulating vineyards allow for nearly ideal growing conditions.

Located in the town of Nava del Rey (King’s Plain), the winery is on the left side of the Duero River, Spain’s principal waterway for its grape-producing areas.