The Pago de Carraovejas Estate
The Pago de Carraovejas winery was founded in 1988 and is located in the town of Peñafiel. Pago de Carraovejas means “the place where the sheep walk by”, a loose translation. The ongoing pursuit of excellence best defines the career of José María Ruiz, Pago's founder and principal shareholder. Working his way through the restaurant trade (cook, waiter & sommelier) in his hometown of Segovia; José María, founded his own restaurant in 1982 and it soon became one of the city's top-rated venues. The winery was a logical extension of José María insistence on serving his restaurant clients the very best. Today he not only makes his own top quality house wine; but also raises heritage-breed pigs for his culinary specialty: Segovia-style roast suckling pìg. The commercial success of the Pago de Carraovejas wines has been spectacular since the first vintage (1991) hit the streets in 1993. In addition to the 100,000 bottles opened annually at the restaurant, the wines have become a must for quality restaurant wine lists in all of Spain. Every vintage is quickly sold out and allocations continue to be hard to come by.
The Pago de Carraovejas Vineyards
Pago de Carraovejas is a single vineyard wine. The Finca comprises of 140 hectares, all red grapes and planted 75% to Tempranillo and 25% to Cabernet Sauvignon. The vines are situated on the southern flank of Carraovejas ridge at 850 meters above sea level. The local micro-climate is harsh and dry: cold winters, hot summers and an annual rainfall less than 400 mm. The soils are low in nutrients with a mix of limestone, chalk and sand. Carefully metered drip irrigation controls vine stress, which along with the terrain, soils and micro-climate, produces grapes of optimum concentration and ripeness, vintage after vintage.
Pago de Carraovejas Winemaking
Production is at 50,000 cases and the winery uses a 50 - 50 combination of French (Allier) and American (Ohio and Missouri) oak of which 33% is new oak each year. They currently make Crianza, Reserva and Gran Reserva styles, no Tinto Joven here. Only 10% of their wine is exported. The maceration of the reds occurs in fat stainless steel tanks suspended off of a single plane of waffled stainless. Enologist Almudena Calvo oversees the winemaking, based on a philosophy that revolves around 4 essential points:
1) the Pago de Carraovejas hillside terrain as the only source of grapes,
2) keeping grapes as undamaged as possible as they go into the fermenters,
3) Large skin contact surface in the fermenters (unique fermentation vessels),
4) 25% of the blend is Cabernet Sauvignon.
Pago de Carraovejas Cuesta Liebres is made from 90% Tinto Fino (Tempranillo) and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon. Following the hottest and then moved to fermenting containers where gravity aids the fermentation process. Aged 24 months in new French oak barrels. Clarified with natural egg white. Intense red cherry color with purple hues. Ripe fruit aromas, vanilla notes. Suave and unctuous in the mouth. A strong and noble character.
Vivid ruby. Intensely perfumed dark berry and floral pastille scents show excellent purity and lift, with a hint of white pepper and building spiciness. Supple and open-knit, offering intense raspberry, vanilla and lavender pastille flavors that put on weight with air. Clean, bright and seamless on the impressively persistent finish, with the red fruit and floral notes echoing strongly. - Vinous 93 Points
Pago de Carraovejas Cuesta Liebres is made from 90% Tinto Fino (Tempranillo) and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon. The plot is located on a terraced hillside located at 900 m above sea level with slopes that range between inclines of 30% and 40%. Red cherry color with purple hues. Ripe fruit aromas, vanilla notes. Suave and unctuous in the mouth. A strong and noble character.
The harvest is carried out by hand using small crates and after passing through a refrigerated container it is transferred into tanks via gravity. The alcoholic and malolatic fermentation is carried out in small French “Haute Futaie” Oak casks with unique and original local yeasts and fermenting bacteria from the vineyard itself, to bring out the very best of the terroir, respecting the uniqueness of each and every vintage. Clarified with egg whites and bottled by gravity with natural cork stoppers.
Pago de Carraovejas Ribera Del Duero is made from 90% Tempranillo, 6% Cabernet Sauvignon and 4% Merlot
The Pago de Carraovejas Ribera del Duero vintage marks a turning point in the history of the winery. From now on, the Crianza and Reserva are unified in this wine that focuses on the terroir and character rather than the time of aging. Its renewed label reflects the three key elements of this red: origin, soul and emotion.
Pago de Carraovejas Ribera Del Duero is made with grapes grown in the Botijas River valley, and planted between 1988 and 2011. Our work over the last 30 years has been geared to handcrafted viniculture, that puts as much care as possible into the microclimate conditions and the details. We have placed particular attention on the maintenance of the soil by plant cover that already grows spontaneously. It allows us to develop the ecosystem of the valley, which we respect scrupulously, using organic fertilizer and sulfur as the sole basis of our viticulture.
Depending on which plot they come from and the time they enter the winery, the grapes may be deposited in cold chambers to prevent oxidation and preserve the aroma. We carry out a two-part selection: first on the vine, where we choose the bunches, and then on a belt in the winery, where we remove the grapes that do meet the necessary conditions. The grapes enter the winery and are transported with the assistance of gravity. The deposits are filled slowly and gently. Depending on the characteristics that we detected when tasting the grapes, we ferment them either in stainless steel deposits or French oak barrels. For years we have worked with our own yeast that has been isolated from the vines by our team. This work is also partly responsible for the Carraovejas character.
The wine was aged in barrels for around twelve months.
This offers a wealth of ripe dark berries and plums on the nose with good purity. The palate has a very juicy and concentrated feel. The tannins are nicely groomed. This holds good shape and length. Drink or hold. - James Suckling 92 Points
Dark and chocolate, spiced with pretty notes of allspice and clove, this wine is round and rich, bursting with ripe berries, combined with an earthy complexity and a velvety finish.
Made from 42% Cabernet Sauvignon, 29% Merlot, 29% Cabernet Franc
The wine spent 22 months on 75% new French oak with the remaining 25% second vintage French oak. Select barrels from the best forests of Taransaud, Boutes, Quintessance, and Vicard cooperages.
A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (60%), Cabernet Franc (30%) and Merlot, this wine seems a little green out of the gate, with aromas of herbs, cocoa, vanilla, black licorice, woodspice and black fruit. The fruit flavors display the warmth of this region, with the tannins providing some heft, stretching out over time. - Wine Enthusiast 91 Points
Tamarack Cellars’ 2011 Ciel du Cheval Vineyard Reserve is an outstanding blend of 42% Cabernet Sauvignon, 29% Merlot and 29% Cabernet Franc that spent 22 months (each variety is kept separate until 12 months after the harvest) in 50% new and 50% once-used French oak. Classically styled, with lots of smoke tobacco, licorice and blackcurrant aromas and flavors, it has everything in the right place, in the right proportions, and is incredibly enjoyable to drink. Enjoy this medium to full-bodied, moderately tannic, balanced beauty over the coming decade, although it will probably last longer. - Robert Parker Wine Advocate 91 Points
Luis Canas Rioja Crianza is made from 95% Tempranillo and 5% Garnacha
A classic style Rioja from one of the regions most enduring family run wineries.. The hillside terraced vineyards are sheltered by the Sierra Cantabria Mountains to the north from harsh weather extremes. Small plot production is utilized in this region of infertile chalky clay soil to produce clusters of excellent quality. Almost 900 plots are needed to complete the approximately 400 hectares of estate-owned or cellar-controlled vineyards, some with vines more than 100 years in age.
Made from 95% Tempranillo, 5% Garnacha of 30 years of age, the wine shows a ruby red color, a clean nose with nuances of balsamic, plum and cedar. The palate is smooth and velvety, complex and structured, with fruit, spice flavors with toasted oak. A pleasant finish with red fruits and hints of eucalyptus.
This year in Rioja Alavesa the weather has been especially cold, the summer short and dry, and there has been plenty of rain in early September. This has produced wines with great aromatic notes, particularly those coming from high altitude areas, very fragrant and with great structure.
Winemaking and aging
Upon entering the bodega and passing the selection table, the grapes are de-stemmed and crushed before undergoing fermentation and then maceration in stainless steel tanks for a total of 8 days, obtaining better color extraction as well as much more complex wines, suitable for prolonged aging. The wine is clarified with vegetable gelatines and follows anicrobic filtration.
It is ideal to pair with meats; red meat, poultry, small game, oily fish, semi-cured cheeses, spicy dishes and hot dishes such as beans or potatoes Rioja style.
After its primary fermentation, the wine is placed in barrels where it undergoes malolactic fermentation and is aged for a minimum of 12 months. It is then bottled for at least another 12 months.