Between 1999 and 2003 Codorníu Raventós set up its own project in Ribera del Duero with the planting of 93Ha of vines on two vineyards. The largest one (55Ha) surrounds the modern, functional winery in Curiel de Duero (Valladolid), near Peñafiel. The second vineyard is in San Martín de Rubiales, one of the first villages in the province of Burgos following the course of the river Duero eastwards. Grapes ripen later in the area’s red clay soils producing structured reds in contrast with the lighter, aromatic style in Curiel. Tempranillo or Tinto Fino is the dominant grape variety but there are also over 20Ha planted with Cabernet Sauvignon.
Legaris also buys grapes from 200Ha owned by their suppliers. The winery employs a viticulture expert to oversee these vineyards, while another colleague is focused on Legaris’ vines.
The entry-level Roble (1m bottles, €7.5), made from suppliers’ grapes and from the vineyard surrounding the winery, takes the lion’s share of Legaris’ total output of 1.5m bottles. The Crianza (€15.5) blends in the fresh, herbal character of Cabernet Sauvignon with Tempranillo grapes from San Martín de Rubiales and from 10 different villages, including vines grown on the moorland. Grapes for their Reserva (€27.5) come mostly from suppliers.
Jorge Bombín, in charge of winemaking since 2008, is a staunch advocate of high altitude vineyards, in particular those grown in the moorlands of Pesquera (around 849m) and Peñafiel (860m) in Valladolid, and Moradillo de Roa in Burgos where vines stand well above 900m. This passion has led to a new range of generic reds that seek to show the great diversity of soils and the landscape of Ribera del Duero. "At the beginning, we just wanted to know more about these areas, but in the end we have developed new winemaking practices that are being applied to our traditional reds," Bombín explains. These include the use of natural yeasts for all the wines except for the Roble, less dependence on temperature controls, a shift towards used barrels and the addition of 500-litre oak barrels, some of which have already been used for the Reserva. "The better we know our vineyards and landscapes, the fewer protocols we need," he notes.
The new range started off in the 2014 vintage with Páramos de Legaris (€19.5, 18,000 bottles, nine months in barrel), "an extreme Tempranillo from an extreme region", as Bombín defines it. Grapes are sourced from the flat, stony soils of the moorland where grapes ripen slowly and acidity is higher.
In the 2015 vintage three village wines (all of them around €30, slightly above 2,000 bottles) were added to the range. Legaris Olmedillo de Roa has Ribera’s powerful, structured style enhanced by a generous amount of oak. The other two wines are focused on elevation and freshness. The grapes for Legaris Moradillo de Roa come from the eponymous moorland in Burgos; despite its rusticity, gravelly soils favour full-ripening without losing freshness. Finally, Alcubilla de Avellaneda 2015 explores the high-altitude, red clay soils of Soria; the wine combines an evocative Mediterranean herbal character with lovely acidity. According to Bombín, this will be a dynamic project that may see the launch of new village wines in the future.
The range of generic wines ends with Calmo (€60, just over 2,000 bottles), a highly concentrated red intended for cellaring.
The wines can be bought at the group's online store.
In Spain, Codorníu Raventós is present in Rioja (Bodegas Bilbaínas), Priorato (Scala Dei), Conca de Barberà ( Abadía de Poblet), Penedés (Bach), Costers del Segre (Raimat) and Valle del Cinca (Nuviana).