An outstanding XVI century network of cellars to make wine in Sotillo de la Ribera

General plan of the historical wineries and “lagares” in Sotillo de la Ribera

 

Sotillo de la Ribera keeps an outstanding network of cellars to make wine which dates back to the XVI century. They are exceptional because of their saze, arquitecture and situation, says a local investigation .  Bodegas Ismael Arroyo-ValSotillo  has in heritage one where they age the wines and that is available for visitors.

There are now 99 “lagares” (Spanish word for the old wineries, where grapes where pressed by the feet), 86underground cellars and 130 zarceras (holes for ventilation), that has atracted investigators attention .

They date back to the XVI century. Old documents from the XVII century say that in the small town of Sotillo de la Ribera the  wine production in the lagares and underground cellars was over 3 million litres, a very important amount taht meant that it was a principal economic activity.

 

Inside ValSotillo’s underground cellar visitors can find 2 other documents, from 1902 and 1948 that talk about the quality of the wines made in Sotillo.

 

Wine diplomas of 1902 and 1948

Photo  from 100 years ago with the winweries in the background

 

Around a third part  of the underground cellars are used by groups of friends and families to meet inside and have dinners, fiestas or other celebrations.

Bodegas Ismael  Arroyo-ValSotillo is the only one winery in the  Denominación de Origen Ribera del Duero that owns a historical underground cellar to age thier wines.

Its almost half a km long, with beautiful hancarved galleries. The temperature inside is all the year the same, (11-12 degrees Celsius)  and  it is open for visitors all the year, from Monday to Saturday.  You can find more information about our wine tours in this website.  Besides,  Bodegas Ismael Arroyo-ValSotillo belongs to Ruta del Vino Ribera del Duero.

 

ValSotillo ages in this 16th century winery

 

 

The best reviews for five top ValSotillo wines

 Bodegas Ismael Arroyo – ValSotillo wines

 

We have five top wines according to the best wine experts’ reviews.  Would you like to know a bit more about them?

We are very proud and grateful for  Tim Atkin  MW’s reviews.  He has included some of our wines in his  special report  Ribera del Duero 2020/21 Top 100. Besides, this year we’ve got reviews in the prestigious German magazine Falstaff and in three of  the most known Spanish wine guides:  Peñín,  Gourmets  and  Wine Up.

 

These are our first best marks:

  • ValSotillo Gran Reserva 2014   

90 Tim Atkin

  • ValSotillo VS 2016 “40 Aniversario”

95 Gourmets,   95 Tim Atkin,  94 Vivir el Vino,  93 Peñín

  • ValSotillo VS Reserva 2016

94 Gourmets,  94 Tim Atkin, 90 Wine Up

  • ValSotillo Reserva 2015

95 Gourmets,  90 Peñín,  92 Wine Up

  • ValSotillo Crianza 2016  

92 Tim Atkin,  92 Falstaff,  89 Peñín,  90 Wine Up

  • ValSotillo Finca Buenavista 2017  

91 Tim Atkin

And these are some of the reviews:

Tim Atkin:

95 ValSotillo VS 40th Anniversary 2016: Not many wineries in Ribera del Duero have racked up 40 vintages and this is a very stylish tribute to founder Ismael Arroyo. Made with Tinto Fino from 100-year-old vines in Sotillo de la Ribera, it`s appealingly complex and balsamic with savoury, tobacco pouch notes, sculpted tannins and chalky acidity. Herbal, minty and long on the palate. 2021-2026”.

94 ValSotillo Reserva 2016: “Named after one of the pioneers of the Ribera del Duero Denominación de Origen, Ismael Arroyo makes impressive wines from its vineyards in high-altitude Sotillo de la Ribera. Aged in French and American oak, this is a focused, refreshing style showing stony minerality, blackberry pastille flavours, racy acidity and fine-boned tannins. 2021-28.

Falstaff Magazine:

92 ValSotillo Crianza 2016:  “Jammy blackberry  flavours, notes of orange peel, plums, tobacco, spices, notes of fine oak, sculpted tannins, minerality, good estructure and elegance”.

 

     Crianza ValSotillo 2016 review in Falstaff magazine

ValSotillo VS 2016 – 40th anniversary, exclusive wine

In Bodegas Ismael Arroyo we are celebrating our 40th anniversary, so we have made and release to the market a new and exclusive wine,  

ValSotillo VS 2016 – 40 anniversary.

In October 1979 Ismael Arroyo started as a private winemaker, working his first harvest  with his family in Sotillo de la Ribera.  Several months later, (spring 1980), the first bottles of Bodegas Ismael Arroyo were  released to the market with the brands Mesoneros de Castilla and ValSotillo.

40 years later, we want to commemorate this important milestone. So we have made a special and exclusive wine,  ValSotillo VS-2016- 40 anniversary. It is a limited production on only 9.820 bottles of 75 cl and 190 Magnum bottles. All of them distinguished wit a 40th anniversary commemorative label.

It is special because it has been made with 100% Tinta del País grapes (Tempranillo), selected from centuries-old vineyards located over slopes, in the hilly landscape of Sotillo de la Ribera.

The wine has been 24 months in American and French oak barrels, in the 16th century underground cellar, at a constant temperature of 12º C, (53º Farenheit), excellent conditions for aging and keep elegant and richness sensations.

Once bottled, the wine remains in the bottle inside the underground cellar until it is released to the market.

TASTING

It has a beautiful cherry colour with garnet edge. Genuine aromas from the grape variety and this special terroir; it smells of ripe fruit, spices, creamy and toasted oak.

Tasty and long palate, this wine shows character and long finish.

It is an exclusive wine, with an extraordinary capacity to evolve and improve in the bottle. It can last very long.

Enoturistas México

Visitors from 42 countries in ValSotillo

Bodegas Ismael Arroyo has received in 2019 about 4,000 visitors, 57% from abroad. The total number of foreign visitors has reached 2,200, 10% more than the previous year and they have arrived from 42 countries, 10 more than in 2018.

The highest number of visits has taken place in May, with almost 600 and in June, (around 500). That means an average of 25/30 daily visitors.

The winery is open to visitors from Monday to Saturday. 

Wine lovers – USA and Puerto Rico

Not only the beauty and history of our 16th century handcarved cellar is an important attraction, but also the effort of the whole family to personalize every tour, offering a unique experience.

We are also members of  Ruta del Vino Ribera del Duero, which was the third wine route most visited in Spain in 2018. And we are founders of Denominación de Origen Ribera del Duero, which is getting more and more popularity and prestige.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reviews of ValSotillo in New York Times or books  such as  Wine Trails , edited by Lonely Planet, help wine tourists to find us.  And some reports of our visitors and  wine lovers:  https://www.wineandfriends.net/post/valsotillo-trip-report-june-2019

Booking in advance is needed to visit ValSotillo:  bodega@valsotillo.com.

More information and prices in this link: https://www.valsotillo.com/enoturismo/

ValSotillo appeals to wine tourists from all around the world

Bodegas Ismael Arroyo-ValSotillo, situated in Ribera del Duero Appellation of Origin, appeals to wine tourists from all around the world.

People from at least 32 different countries have visited this 400 years old winery, one of the pioneers in Ribera del Duero.

                                      University students USA

Most of our visitors come from the United States. But we have also reservations of winelovers from Mexico, Portugal, Switzerland, China, Puerto Rico, Belgium, Dominincan Republic, Russia, Canada, United Kingdom, France, Australia, Panama, Argentina, Denmark, Philippines, Holland, Ecuador, Colombia, Romania, Israel, Italy, Japan, Sweden, Turkey, Korea, Peru, Taiwan and Brazil.

                              Winelovers Manila (Philippines) and USA

In total, we get around 2.000 foreign visitors per year. Most of them arrange an organized wine tour, others contact by mail directly with the winery and some have read about ValSotillo in books or reports, like the one that wrote Jada Jan in the New York Times, considering Bodegas Ismael Arroyo-ValSotillo as her favourite.

All our visitors love the opportunity of having a first-hand experience of wine history and tradition, explained by the owners of the winery, who are direct descendants of the first winemakers in Sotillo de la Ribera, in the XVI century.

                         Historical cellar XVI century 400 years old winery

The walk through the outstanding hand carved underground historical cellar, preserved as it was four centuries ago and the reading of old documents from the XVII, XVIII and beginning of the XX century, talking about the family ancestors and how they made wine are highly valued by visitors.

           Winelovers from USA, Puerto Rico, Canada, Venezuela and Singapore.

HARVEST

Harvest is an intense time in every winery.  Bodegas Ismael Arroyo ValSotillo is situated in Ribera del Duero where harvest takes place usually in the first two weeks of October.

Harvest is the end of a long year working in the vineyards.  September is the most important month because it is when grapes become ripe.

We start at the end of August selecting bunches to limit their number, because lower yields generally result in riper grapes with more concentrated flavours.

In September we check the color, level of sugar of the grapes in the vines, seeds… This analysis helps us to make a decision about when to start picking the grapes.

The grapes are hand-harvested. We sort bunches in the vines. When they arrive to the winery in cases they go to a hopper and a de-stemmer which separates the berries from the stems. These are ejected and berries are pumped directly to the stainless steel tanks. 

Alcoholic fermentation starts in 2 or 3 days in the tanks. We never add commercial yeasts. We start fermentation with the natural yeasts in the skin of the grapes. During 10 days the sugar changes in alcohol.  We pump the juice several times to keep wet the cap of skins that usually floates on the top of the tanks. This is very important to take the flavours, colour and tanins from the skins.

When alcoholic fermentation ends, we take the skins to make a soft press and  we wait till the malolactic fermentation starts.  It changes malic acids in lactic acids.

This is a very attractive time for winelovers, which increase the visits to our winery.  We are members of Ruta del Vino Ribera del Duero, so in harvest time we offer our visitors (adults and children) to taste the grapes and the grape juice.

At the end of November vine leaves dry and fall so we can start to prune their branches. Then everything starts  one more time  in the vineyards.

Jada Yuan (New York Times): “ValSotillo, my favorite”

At the begining of 2018 The New York Times  journalist Andrew Ferren  published 52 Places to GO in 2018 which included two Spanish destinations:  Ribera del Duero and  Sevilla.

Some months later the NYT columnist Jada Yuan, visited each destination. “In Spain I just felt like myself”, she writes.

To visit Ribera del Duero she signed up for a full day small group tour with Wine Tourism Spain.

By the end of a great tipsy day with a family of four from Colombia and an introduction to distinct wines I never would have found on my own, I felt spoiled for all subsequent tours”, she says  about Ribera del Duero tour.

The last stop was our winery, ValSotillo, which Jada described as “mi favorite”.

The two brothers who run it make their wine im 16th-century hand-chiseled caves. And their Gran reserva was so memorable, I made an hourlong detour another day tobuy a bottle  -a wholesale steal at 42 euros”, describes the NYT columnist.

This is what we try to give to our visitors….  Nice and unique experiencies.

 

This is the link to Jada’s report:

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/07/travel/spain-seville-ribera-del-duero-wine-tapas-dancing.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=second-column-region&region=top-news&WT.nav=top-news

Ismael Arroyo, father and DO Ribera del Duero pioneer

Our beloved father, Ismael Arroyo, sadly passed away last 24th of March at the age of 88.

He founded Bodegas Ismael Arroyo in 1979, when Ribera del Duero wine region still had not an appellation of origin and there were only three or four grapegrowers who were bottling the wine from their vines.

At that time young people had migrated from the countryside to big cities like Madrid, Bilbao or Barcelona, so most of the vines were abandoned.

But Ismael believed in the quality of the grapes and the wines, so he started making wine and bottling it with two of his five sons, Miguel Ángel and Ramón. Mesoneros de Castilla and ValSotillo were the winery brands.

Ismael with his sons

He also worked hard together with other winemakers to create in 1982 the DO Ribera del Duero, so he is one of the pioneers of the appellation of origin, the father of DO Ribera del Duero.

The tradition of winemaking has been handed down from generation to generation in the Arroyo’s family. When he was a child he used to help his father and grandfather to make wine in the traditional way, pressing the grapes by feet in the “lagares”, buildings which were built by their ancestors in the XVII century. Closed to them visitors still can find the underground cellars, hand carved in the rock to keep the wine at a low and constant temperature, in dark and silence.

Wine diploma 1948

Ismael wanted to age his wines in one of these impressive underground cellars, 400 years old, which nowadays is visited by wine lovers from 25 different countries.

Ismael with wine lovers

His legacy will continue in Bodegas Ismael Arroyo- ValSotillo through his sons Marisa and grandsons, Susana.

ValSotillo VS 2011, Best of Spain Top 100 at Prowein

ValSotillo VS Reserva 2011 (Bodegas Ismael Arroyo), has been chosen one of the Best of Spain Top 100 that would be presented this year at Prowein 2018.

ICEX’s wine department in Düsseldorf ICEX in collaboration with Meininger Verlag (Germany’s largest dedicated publisher of publications devoted to wine and other beverages) are responsable for the event.

More than 350 samples of an extensive list of wines from across Spain had been submitted and carefully tasted. The tasting was completely blind and VS Reserva 2001 has been included in the final Top 100 selection.

The 2018 selection of The Best of Spain Top 100 would be enjoyed by visitors in the ICEX open tasting zone at Prowein, in Düsseldorf. Over the three days of the fair there will be a team of sommeliers to help visitors and customers in their tastings.

Spanish specialist and wine adviser Peer Holm will once again looking after the open ICEX tasting zone at this year’s Prowein.

Considered as the world’s largest wine fair, Prowein expects around 60.000 visitors this year from 130 different countires.

Bodegas Ismael Arroyo exports the 65% of its production and Germany is the main market abroad.