Valsotillo: Bodegas Ismael Arroyo
1. History and tradition of Bodegas Ismael Arroyo
The Bodegas Ismael Arroyo is one of the most traditional and historical cellars from Ribera del Duero. This familiar cellar is located in the province of Burgos, and more specifically in the town called Sotillo de la Ribera.
This cellar was founded in 1979 by Ismael Arroyo when the Designation of Origin (D.O.) didn’t exist yet. In 1982 he, along with others winegrowers and wine-makers, founded the Denomination of Origin Ribera del Duero, which years later became one of the most popular wines in Spain and all over the world.
Its traditional production method has passed from generation to generation and it is the element that makes the difference in this wines. Its ancient underground cellars, which have natural conditions, and the particular harvest made by hand and with grapes from the proximity have granted a premium quality and a wide recognition.
2. Underground cellar Valsotillo wines
The cellar belonging to Bodegas Ismael Arroyo is an underground cellar from the 16th century. This cellar has an approximate length of 1200 square meters and it is made of underground galleries excavated into the rock. In 1992 the cellar was expanded to 800 meters in order to complete it. Nowadays this cellar has an approximate length of 2000 square meters.
Its maintenance conditions allow the production of wines of such a high quality. The wine aging’s conditions are completely natural because the wine is kept at a temperature between 11 and 12 degrees Celsius throughout the year. Moreover, the lack of external noises and the absence of direct light or vibrations contribute positively to the wine aging.
The wine aging process of all the wines from this cellar is based on the same principles. This process is done in French and American oak casks with 225 liters of capacity. Subsequently, the wine rests in bottle until its marketing. This results in wines with a broad bouquet and texture, which have an excellent constitution. Thanks to the careful and traditional production of the wines in this little cellar, it is obtained one of the most ancient and traditional wines from Ribera del Duero, with a unique flavor and incomparable aromas.
3. Vineyards and harvest of Valsotillo wines
The vineyards from this cellar have an approximate length of 25 hectares, whose grape variety is the tempranillo, also known as the tinta del país. The fields in which these vineyards are planted are carefully selected. Regarding the soil types used in plantation, these have formations of clayey-calcareous sand, sandstones or stony grounds, and the slopes where the vineyards are placed are sunny and properly ventilated.
When buying grapes is necessary, the product is acquired from winegrowers of the area, who take care of their vineyards using traditional methods, with the aim of not alter neither the quality nor the elaboration process of the wine. The development of the vineyards’ stocks is done in a natural way, without using artificial irrigations or chemical fertilizers. The pruning is done manually. The used system is the goblet pruning because it doesn’t suffer and its age is expanded, being its average age 50 years approximately, and up to 90 years in some vineyards.
When it comes to the harvest, it is done as in the past. The harvest usually starts during the first half of October. The grape collected during the harvest comes from vineyards in the area, in which itis manually selected and collected by hand. This means that the grape, due to be from the area, arrives in perfect conditions and it starts its production period in cellar in a very short period of time.
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4. Brands: Valsotillo and Mesoneros de Castilla
We can find two wine brands belonging to Bodegas Ismael Arroyo: Valsotillo and Mesoneros de Castilla. The wines of both brands have the D.O. Ribera del Duero and they have been produced with the same type of grape. The main difference lies in the aging time, because the wines from Valsotillo’s brand have a longer aging time.
Valsotillo is the main brand of this cellar. We can find different wines: Crianza, Reserva and Gran Reserva. The aging periods in American and French oak barrels from 12 to 30 months, with 12 month for the Crianza, 24 months for the Reserva and 30 months for the Gran Reserva. Moreover, it should be stressed that all this wines are bottle-aged in an underground cellar until the moment of its marketing.
Mesoneros de Castilla is the secondary brand of this cellar. The Mesoneros de Castillawines tend to be younger, that is to say, they have a shorter aging period or without aging. We can find three types of wine under this brand: Rosado, Tinto and Tinto Roble. The Tinto Roble wine is the only one that counts with aging in cask, while the Tinto only have fermentation in stainless steel tanks.
5. Awards of Valsotillo wines
Despite this cellar is little, it has received numerous and different awards at international level due to the huge quality of its wines. From appearances in well-known publications like New York Times to awards granted by numerous associations of winegrowers, everything endorses this traditional cellar located in the main heart of the Ribera del Duero.
- The 52 Places Traveler: Feeling Like an Insider, Finally, in Spain - August 2018, New York Times
- ValSotillo wine CR 2011: Spain is not just about the oaky Rioja, there are other regions worth exploring too… - March 2016, The Independent.
- Best place for wine tourism (2018).
- Envero de Honorprize in 2018 to its founder Ismael Arroyo by the council of Aranda del Duero (June 2018).
- ValSotillo VS Reserva: one of the best 100 wines in the contest Best of Spain Top 100 in Prowein 2018.
- ValSotillo Gran Reserva 1985: 15th anniversary of Madrid fusión.
- ValSotillo Crianza 2011 in the 10th edition of ICC Star chefs in New York.
- ValSotillo Vendimia Seleccionada Reserva 2004in the show cooking of the best cookers of the world.