Rudeles vineyards are in Peñalba de San Esteban at the eastern end of the DO Ribera del Duero and cover 15.5 hectares at an altitude of over 900m. This part of the DO is in the province of Soria and is less well-known than the rest of the Ribera del Duero appellation. Peñalba is a charming village, with stone cottages and adobe houses, and a beautiful Romanesque church. Walking through the village, there is a pretty brook with poplars and elm on its banks. Above the vineyards are vultures and falcons, the scent of lavender and ripe wheat floats on the breeze, and the vines are planted on soils which are a mixture of clay and sand, dotted with irregular-sized pebbles. It is an excellent “terroir”.
Our vineyards are situated on the side of a hill which separates us from the main area of the Ribera; it is an array of tiny plots of vineyard, some of them planted with only 50 vines. Almost all the vines are over one hundred years old, some were planted before the arrival of Phylloxera, and all are capable of withstanding this harsh climate.
The climate is tough. Our average annual rainfall is less than 400mm. The sudden autumn gives way to cold winters, frost is quite common in spring time, but summer is hot with occasional violent thunderstorms. These violent changes in temperature affect the grape cycle, reducing yields considerably. But they also give the fruit a quality that is difficult to achieve in other growing areas of the Ribera del Duero.
We have some fifty plots of vineyard, all small, spread across four separate zones, each of which is vinified separately. In total, we harvest about 42,000 bush vines, planted long ago by our grandparents and in some cases by our great-grandparents. Per vine, production can be as low as 200 grams of grapes and our average yield in these vineyards is just one thousand kilograms per hectare.
The most widely planted grape variety is Tempranillo (known as Tinto Fino in the Ribera and Tinto del País by local farmers) but, as was the custom in the days when the vines were planted, Garnacha vines have been planted fairly randomly throughout these vineyards. A third variety, the white Albillo, very rare, but permitted by the regulations of the DO Ribera del Duero, allows us to produce a delicate aromatic white wine.
As we work with three different grape varieties and the vines are spread over a fairly wide area, the harvest takes place in three stages. First the Albillo is picked and vinified, then it is the turn of the Tempranillo and finally the Garnacha is harvested; this latter grape adds a refreshing aromatic touch to our fine Spanish wines.