Ribera del Duero, Spain
Over the past quarter century, Ribera del Duero has arguably become the most successful wine region of Spain. Yet, some of its finest wines are yet to be made. The reason is simple: many of the best terroirs and oldest vines are in the remote eastern part of the region – the province of Soría – which is still largely unexplored by today’s winemakers. In fact, Bertrand Sourdais first brought Soría to light with his pioneering wines at Dominio de Atauta, a project by Miguel Sanchez. One of his Atauta cuvées won a widely publicized blind tasting against the greatest wines of Spain and France – tied 1994 Vega Sicilia and edged out 2000 Chateau Latour.
Hernando y Sourdais is the new venture headed by Bertrand Sourdais and David Hernando. Located in the very remote eastern sector of Ribera del Duero, called Soria, a sub-region named after its main town. Around a village of San Esteban de Gormaz, are antique vineyards with pre-phylloxera vines (2000 years’ heritage) organically grown, at up to 1000m above sea level.
Bertrand’s goal is to capture the essence of this singular region with the full of the soul of ancient vine Tinto Fino. Sourcing from choice vineyards, he employs organic and where possible, biodynamic methods. Spanish for “antidote” – it has a particular meaning for Bertrand in the wake of Atauta’s sale. The wine also serves an antidote to the many Ribera de Duero wines that substitute heavy-handed winemaking for a sense of place and variety.
Bertrand poetically describes the Soría dry zone as “sitting on the rooftop of Ribera,” where temperatures are cooler than in the rest of Ribera del Duero. There are numerous soil types, but most of them have two things in common: their poverty and an abundance of sand that has kept Phylloxera out. Thus we have one of the largest concentrations of ungrafted vines in Europe. To Bertrand’s mind, the Soría sub-zone offers a transitional wine type that can – in the right hands – marry Rioja’s fragrance and finesse with Ribera del Duero’s traditional power and depth. To minimize tannin extraction, he believes in long, gentle macerations with no new barrels for aging.
The immediate goal – a wine with balance, perfume, and complete tannins.