The vindication of the territory in Soria has also reached the world of wine after some 20 years of gestation: since the Soriano distributor Miguel Sánchez and Bertrand Sourdais, who come from a family of winemakers from the Loire, found a common interest in the small plots in which the magnificent historic vineyard of Atauta is distributed. Its initial commitment to the uniqueness of this territory has spread among other producers, leading to the creation of the Viejas Viñas de Soria association in March 2020. Made up of 16 wineries (14 belonging to the DO Ribera del Duero and 2 from outside of it), the group fights for the protection of the valuable vineyard in this area and the vindication of its peculiarity. Two years later, they prepare their presentation in society with an event in which they will highlight the value of wine heritage.
What you need to know to avoid getting lost in a winery
The Sorian part of the Ribera del Duero is a place with a different identity from the rest of the denomination: it is characterized by small farms, a higher altitude and a more extreme climate. And for its vineyards, many of them centuries-old and pre-phylloxera, because its soils, with a calcareous base in some parts and clay in others, present, in many places, a sandy surface that prevented the mobility of the insect that changed the wine panorama of the world since the last half of the 19th century.
“We are happy in the Ribera del Duero, but we would like the consumer to find out more about the fact that the Ribera del Duero in Soria exists,” explains Jaime Suárez, member of Viejas Viñas de Soria. The association is chaired by Bertrand Sourdais who, when he arrived in the region 20 years ago at the hands of Ricardo Palacios, had worked on projects in Bordeaux or Priorat and is now one of the champions of prestigious wines in Soria. His projects (Antídoto and Dominio de Es) and wineries such as Dominio de Atauta and Gormaz are the ones with the highest production in an area where, in reality, micro-projects predominate. In total, the group brings together companies that employ about 70 workers between them.
Far from the figures of other wine regions, in its 5% vineyard area (the Ribera del Duero in Valladolid has 21.62% and the province of Burgos has just over 72% of the area of the Denomination of Origin, in addition of 0.78% in the province of Segovia) more than 2 million bottles of wine are produced per year. Its 1,274 hectares are characterized by the division into small plots, mostly between 0.05 and 0.25 hectares. Suárez gives Atauta as an example, where 59 hectares of old vines are distributed in more than 600 parcels. In fact, one of its first endeavors is to obtain a new “mapping” of the area by the Junta de Castilla y León to identify parcels that appear in the registers but that no longer exist, with the aim of having more reliable data. of the old vineyard surface.
The intention of the wineries that have created the association is “that not one more old vineyard be lost”, in reference to the wine heritage of this area, which makes it especially unique. And based on this objective, the producers from Soria want to make clear the peculiarity of their wines, highlighting “this geographical location, with this climate and altitude”, explains Suárez, for whom “more and more value is given to what is their own”. As with other appellations of origin that cover a large area of territory, there is a big difference between some areas and others. San Esteban de Gormaz and Valbuena de Duero, for example, are separated by 100 kilometers. The altitude, sought after for a few years by producers from warm areas because it allows slower maturation and better preservation of acidity, is in Soria. And its variety of soils offers more vertical and direct wines, in the case of limestone bottoms and deeper and more intense, in the case of clay.
“The Ribera del Duero is very large and Soria has always been a bit forgotten,” says Diego Muñoz, sommelier and head waiter at La Lobita (a Michelin-starred restaurant located in the town of Navaleno), who sees well that the producers Sorian wine “pull everyone from the same car”. For Muñoz, the association can also serve for these producers to join other small ones whom they can advise “to do things right.” The customer, unless he is an experienced consumer, does not usually have the perception that Soria wines are different from others from Ribera, according to the experience of this sommelier.
However, in the Viejas Viñas association they do appreciate a change in trend among wine lovers, at least in those closest to them. “Sorians are no longer ashamed to say that they drink Ribera del Duero from Soria, that the wines are very good and that there are quality projects behind them.” In fact, among the most immediate projects of the association is an event, scheduled for the middle of this year, which will mark the coming-out of the group. In collaboration with the City Council of San Esteban de Gormaz, they organize their first fair, which will focus on wines, but also on the territory, with excursions to the Atauta Valley so that attendees can learn about the uniqueness of the vineyards, and also the heritage of the town itself, with its traditional wineries.