Following other big Rioja producers that expanded into Ribera del Duero, Luis Cañas launched its own venture in the appellation in 2008. The winery is based in La Aguilera, a village located in the province of Burgos, close to Aranda de Duero. The absence of land consolidation means that the area still preserves a good deal of old vines in small plots. Rich soil variation (sand, clay, chalk, stones) is another distinctive feature of this area. The winery owns 20 hectares and sources grapes from 90 additional hectares.
Dominio de Cair was born from the friendship of wine producer Juan Luis Cañas and steel industry entrepreneur Juan José Iribecampos —the name of the winery is the result of joining their surnames. Iribecampos has recently reduced his share in the partnership to 3% with the Cañas group as the main stakeholder (51%). The rest is in the hands of one of the first Chinese investors to enter the wine industry in Spain.
The range of wines starts with the entry-level red Cair Cuvée (€9, nine months in barrel), a blend of Tempranillo and 15% Merlot sourced from vineyards planted at high altitude in the village of Moradillo de Roa. The remaining wines are all single-varietal Tempranillos, selected according to yields and vines’ age, virtually in the same way as the company works in Rioja. Cair (around €18, 14 months in French and American oak) comes from 40 to 50 year-old vines with maximum yields of 3,500 kilos per hectare, while Tierras de Cair (around €32, 24 months in French oak) sources grapes from 70+ year-old vineyards with yields below 2,000 kilos per hectare. These are balanced Riberas with good acidity and tannins benefiting from some cellaring. As expected, increased levels of depth and complexity are obtained as you go up the scale.
Pendón de La Aguilera, launched with the 2009 vintage, is Ribera’s equivalent to Hiru in Rioja. It costs over €200 with €25 per bottle donated to charity. The name comes from El Pendón (standard, in English), a nearby hill crowned with a stone cross where villagers used to go in in procession carrying their two standards. The wine comes from eight very old vineyards, their grapes rogorously tasted to select the most distinctive fruit.
While El Pendón and Tierras de Cair ferment in oak vats, stainless steel tanks are used for the rest of the range. All wines undergo malolatic fermentation in barrel except the Tempranillo used in the entry-level red Cair Cuvée.
Cair’s brand new, large facilities allow the winery to welcome visitors in style. The standard tour starts with an aperitif served under an old pine tree followed by a tasting of a couple of samples directly poured from the barrel. Wine courses and various types of tastings are also available.