Ribera del Duero is part of a high plateau in the centre of the Iberian peninsula, where summers are hot and winters are cold and hard. One of the best districts of Ribera is Roa in the west of the valley, home to Tomás Esteban's Bodega y Viñedos Valderiz. Tomás is the seventh generation of winemakers in his family and since taking over from his father he has expanded the vineyards from 10 hectares to over 60, distributed among 35 plots on a variety of soil types. The vines are pruned into low goblet shaped bushes to protect the fruit and to retain moisture under the fierce heat of the plateau in summer.
Tomás is a pioneer of sustainable farming in Ribera. No herbicides, pesticides or artificial fertilisers are used and he is looking to convert to biodynamic viticulture over the next few years, though one plot of vines is already farmed using that method and produces one of the estate’s flagship wines. The care of the vineyards is assiduous and so too is the handling of the fruit when it reaches the modern winery on the estate. Gentle handling is the order of the day, and there is an initial and prolonged chilled maceration of the must before natural yeasts get started on the fermentation. Nothing is added to assist the process and sulphur is used judiciously.
The ensuing wines spend time in mostly French oak with a little in American oak alongside, and the carefully selected barrels are toasted to match the specific requirements of the individually harvested parcels of vines. Little is left to chance here, and the care and attention to detail shows in the bottle.