Ana Carazo is not the first "loba" (wolf) in the family. In fact, this is the nickname by which her grandmother was known in Matanza de Soria, a village in the most remote and little-known area of Ribera del Duero. The labels of La Loba feature Ana’s grandmother sat next to the green door of the old family house, just as Ana remembers her.
Carazo was not raised up in Soria though, but in Alicante where her parents run a wine distribution company which operated also in Murcia and Albacete. "I grew up amongst wine, going from one winery to another," she says. It was Mariano García, the owner of Mauro, who encouraged her to study oenology in Requena and who paved the way for her first internship in Aalto.
She gained further work experience at wineries in Ribera del Duero like Cillar de Silos or Astrales. After a brief stint with José María Vicente in Casa Castillo (Jumilla) and in Paixar (Bierzo) she moved abroad to work with Bertrand Sourdais (Antídoto, Dominio de Es) at his family estate in Chinon (Loire) and in New Zealand.
Learning how to recover abandoned vineyards in Bierzo proved highly useful when she set up on her own. Additionally, she tried her hand in a wine distribution company in Madrid: "I like the variety of jobs you can have in wine,” she explains.
She set up her own project in 2011 after renting a space at Bodegas Neo where she made her first vintage of La Loba (€28, between 6,000 to 7,000 bottles). Now Ana also works from two small spaces in Matanza where she plans to build a bigger winery in the future. She worksmore than 100 plots including her own and some rented vineyards that only amount to five hectares -as land consolidation barely had in impact in Soria, smallholdings are dominant in the area.
Ana Carazo champions low intervention wines. She doesn’t add sulphites until the wine is in barrels and avoids over-extraction. La Loba is a single-varietal Tempranillo. It is fermented in stainless steel tanks, undergoes malolactic fermentation in barrel, then spends a month in a tank and is aged for 10 to 12 months in oak. Ana looks for the bare expression of the soil as well as the freshness of one of the highest areas in Ribera (the average vineyard lies at 960 metres above sea level). "The soil is what's interesting here because both the variability and the orientations are impressive," she adds.
In the 2015 vinatge Ana launched La Lobita (about €18, just over 1,000 bottles), a second wine that includes some Albillo in the blend. In this case alcoholic and malolactic fermentation take place in 500-litre barrels offering smoked aromas and sweet fruit notes.
She plans to launch a new set of wines including some limited editions. Her aim is to capture the distinctive character of other villages in the province of Soria beyond Matanza. She is already making a wine from Piqueras de San Esteban which will be released under the VT Castilla y León designation as it lies just outside the boundaries of the DO Ribera del Duero. Aside from that Ana manages three plots in Navapalos, also beyond the limits of the appellation.