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Visit to Bodegas Félix Callejo
Sotillo de la Ribera,
Ribera del Duero

   
 
The NEW label design

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THE RIGHT CONDITIONS
      
 A DREAM
PASSION
  
 RESPECT FOR THE LAND
LIFE
GENUINE
 

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES
Full winery presentation
 (large PDF)
Tasting notes by Josh Raynolds
Callejo website
Noelia's Blog
Callejo on Facebook
Finca Valdelroble Organic Winery
 (large PDF)
Ontario consumers:
FELIX CALLEJO FAMILY RESERVE 2005
VINTAGES 110544 | 750 mL bottle
Price: $ 119.00

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Having enjoyed their wines for several years remotely, I was delighted to have the opportunity to visit Bodegas Félix Callejo in Sotillo de la Ribera, in the north of Ribera del Duero. We drive about 45 minutes north from Madrid.
The winery is situated in one of the finest wine regions in the world.  The wines are so beautiful, so sublime, they're among the very best you'll ever find. In all my years as a wine writer, this winery is one of the most significant I have discovered.
We arrive at the winery Saturday just before noon. It's a clean and attractive facility. But the best part of the experience are the people and the wines!

We were greeted warmly by Félix Callejo and daughter Beatriz, marketing manager. More about the stunning wines in due time.

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Beatriz tells us of the founding of the bodega by her father in 1989 and his vision for producing world-class wines. They have 100 hectares of planted vineyards. She tells us of the advantages of the area. At 850 meters to 960 metres, it is high ground with extreme weather.

The Ribera del Duero has low rainfall, and a wide range of temperature extremes (-18 C to 40 C). Day to night differences can be as much as 15 degrees! The soils on the property are sandy, clay, boulder, lime and limestone. All of these conditions provide the most ideal environment for grape-growing that I've ever seen, personally.

RIBERA DEL DUERO on the map. Sotillo de la Ribera is in the North of the Denominación de Origen (DO) of Ribera del Duero. The Callejo family's philosophy is to respect the estate land and its life-giving force in a genuine, thoughtful and natural way. This includes their organic farming techniques. They plant cover crops to avoid erosion and improve soil structure. It also creates an environment beneficial to pest predators. They use NO pesticides. They do however treat the plants with seaweed, chamomile, field horsetail, nettle and other natural substances. Canopy management is vigorous and intelligently thought-out.
At the conclusion of Beatriz's presentation, Félix asks, "do you want a tour of the winery first, or do you want to eat and taste our wines?" We opt for the latter. Plenty of time to see things a bit later.

There's a kitchen just off the tasting area. Félix puts on a white coat and starts cooking up a storm. We sample eggs, sausages, bread & cheeses, deliciously and lovingly prepared. They start opening the 7 wines in their range of products.

Each of the wines is made from Tempranillo, known as Tinto Fino here. The 100 hectares of vineyards are planted to Tempranillo. Harvest begins end of September when the days are quite warm and the nights are cool. The vineyards are beside the winery building and all around it.
Notice how healthy the vines are! Without spray, they are tended naturally, thus enabling perfectly healthy grapes to grow.

Our tasting started from the least costly to the most costly.

SELECTED TASTING NOTES

  • CUATRO: Aged 4 months in oak, this is the beginning of greatness among wines. A very balanced & aristocratic red that will wow anyone who tries it.
  • Felix Callejo Family Reserve 05: Rated 97+ points by Robert Parker, this wine is one of the best red wines I've ever tasted (which is only about 4,000 to this point). A gem.
    AVAILABLE AT LCBO VINTAGES IN ONTARIO.
After strolling through the vineyards,  Félix and Beatriz pose with me for a photo.
The winery has large barrique (shown above) and stainless tanks. These oak vats allow for microoxygenation in which very small quantities of air are introduced to the fermentation.

Great care is given throughout the process of harvest, hand-sorting, vinification, and bottling.

 

vid

The Callejo family in the impressive barrel room. French oak barrels, then long times in bottle.
Cristina Callejo, Marketing and Export Manager. Master Viticulturalist. Travelling the world since 1991.
José Félix Callejo, winegrower, winemaker. Master of Oenology and Viticulturalist.

Gained experience with Torres (Chile) in 2000 and with Petrus (yes, THE Petrus).

Noelia Callejo. Works closely with José Félix in the winegrowing and winemaking process. She is an Agricultural Engineer with an Oenology degree.

Gained experience with Viña Cobos (Argentina) in 2008 and Araujo (Napa Valley) in 2007.

Noelia's Blog:
http://www.noecallejo.blogspot.ca/

This is the first sorting table. Great care is taken to keep only the best grape clusters and to de-stem.
As we leave these wonderful people and savour the lingering finish of the wines on our palates, we look back at the winery and the statue of a rather interesting man!


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