The "crazy people of Pinot Noir": how to make wine in the style of Burgundy in Valladolid and not die trying

They call it the "Grape of the devil", for how difficult it is to cultivate and vinify, but when you manage to train, excellent wines are obtained. We talked, of course, about the pinot noir, a grape of French origin, whose name derives from the words pine ("Pineapple") and not to go ("Black"), in reference to its tight and conical bunches, shaped like a pineapple.

The pinot noir It is the grape par excellence of Burgundy wines, one of the most appreciated designations of origin in the world, where it has been cultivated since the 1st century A.D. The variety is also planted for a long time in some regions of Germany and Italy, but to date it has been very rare in Spain. And, in order to mature in conditions, it is essential to have a Cold weather. It is very sensitive to wind, heat and drought: just the inclemency that is most abundant in the peninsula.

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It is not surprising, therefore, that the pioneers who began to make variety wines pinot noir in full Ribera del Duero, almost 30 years ago, they were branded as foolish. “We have always been the crazy people of pinot noir”, He says Diego Ortega, who, together with his brother, has been in charge of Alta Pavina wineries for 20 years. “No one can believe that in the area of ​​the Douro riverbank and in Spain it can be done pinot noir”.

The vineyards of Alta Pavina, which surround the winery in the style of a chateau French, are located in the municipality of Grill, almost a thousand meters high. "It's a very cold area," says Ortega, so it meets the first requirement to grow pinot noir. But from here everything is a matter of effort (and some luck).

“It has been very difficult vineyard acclimatization, until we achieve the quality wines we are making now, ”explains Ortega. "The production and the vineyard is so sensitive that a late hail, a late ripening, a rain at the wrong time, do not meet the right quality to do so."

There are vintages, such as 2013, which had to be renounced. “We are a fairly familiar winery and we have allowed ourselves the luxury of do not bring the wine to the market in vintages that we did not like, ”explains the winemaker. “I understand that not all wineries can afford that luxury, but we always want to go to that sublime quality, and we have not wanted to buy wine from one side or another. We don't have anyone to buy from either. ”

Diego Ortega, after lunch at the Aarde restaurant, where he told us all about his wines.

The Burgundy of the Duero

The Ortega brothers, also owners of the hotel chain Fontecruz, they acquired the vineyards and the winery from a family of Valladolid visionaries.

“It is a family from Valladolid that in the early 80's brought an old vineyard from the Burgundy,” explains Ortega. “A few years later we entered and we developed the concept together. The original decision to bring the vineyard is not ours, I am not going to merit what is not there, but we have been with this project for more than 20 years. ”

"Our philosophy is to make wines more mineral, more continental, more cold zone", explains Ortega

Of course, what is worthwhile is to convert what seemed more or less like an experiment in a successful company, which has managed to make excellent wines, unique in the area. “They made a very special wine, but of a very local distribution and marketing, and for 20 years we have been looking for life, moving the variety pinot noir for the world, ”explains Ortega.

One of the secrets of their wines is that they mix the variety and winemaking of Burgundy style, with the characteristics of Ribera del Duero wines, although they are not in the Denomination of Origin because the sheets of the same do not admit this grape variety.

"The pinot noir It varies in two lines: a wine thrown into Burgundy that can be a little more mineral, with more marked acidity, and those from warmer sites, such as in California, where there is a lot, or those made in Alicante and Ronda, with warmer nuances, sweeter aromas, ”explains Ortega. “They are very rich too, but our philosophy is to make more mineral, more continental, more cold zone wines. It is not Burgundy because the character of a Valladolid floor is infallible, it is 100% Spanish, but you will enjoy the pinot noir, of the strawberry, raspberry, of some elegant wines ”.

The Ortega plans to expand the winery, which currently produces only 250,000 bottles

To achieve this, the Ortega have the invaluable help of Claude Bourgignon, a collaborator who gets them the Burgundy barrels with which they make their wines. A type of barrels that, as the winemaker explains, are important in the final result.

"The pinot noir It is a very delicate grape that, as you put new barrel in, immediately gives you a sponge effect and absorbs it ”, explains Ortega. “Bourgignon Get us old barrels in Burgundy, They don't want the big ones anymore. We bring them and put the wine to raise it. Although it has 20 months it has a very good balance between the fruit and the barrel. It is that if you do not load it, it is very delicate to the wood, and we do not want to make very maderizados wines ”.

Citius wine, 100% pinot noir, is the flagship product of the winery.

A wine that will continue to grow

Currently, Alta Pavina markets three types of wine. Your flagship product is the Citius, the 100% single varietal pinot noir, which has 91 Parker points. It also enters the top of the Parker list, with 90 points, the wine Payment La Pavina, which mixes 80% tempranillo with 20% of Cabernet Sauvignon.

Finally, we find the most informal line of the winery, the wines Pavinia The red mix pinot noir with 50% tempranillo, a coupage that Ortega, he says, is only one in the world, and the pink that is, like the Citius, pinot noir 100% A wine that, in the opinion of the winemaker, will give much to talk about: “In Spain, the rosé does not end, but internationally it doesn't stop drinking. In Spain it is going to hit a zambombazo, I don't know if in six months or two years but more and more restaurants are buying it ”.

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Whatever happens, the Ortega plan to expand the winery, which currently produces only 250,000 bottles. "We are starting to plant more," he says. “Although we have no idea of ​​being a very large winery in production, we want to continue growing in quality, in doing special things, very handmade, homemade things that never lose identity. Here we go".

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