An incomparable “terroir”
The estate boasts 600 hectares of forests and vineyards, in a mountainous environment of singular beauty, at the foot of the Central System and next to the basin of the river Henares. The pines, oaks and the rich undergrowth fill the atmosphere with aromas of lavender and rosemary and lend their distinctive mark on the wines.
Thanks to the excellent conservation of nature in the surroundings of the Sierra Norte de Guadalajara Natural Park, it is easy to see a wide variety of wild animals such as deer, wild boar and roe deer. Proof of this degree of conservation was the presence of a family of wolves in the Finca Río Negro during a long period in 2018.
The vineyards are located between 950 and 1,000 metres above sea level, one of the highest vineyards in Europe and truly unique, if we look to the north.
This altitude is the result of its location in the foothills of the Sierra de Ayllón (Central System), at the foot of such emblematic peaks as Pico del Lobo (2,257 m), Peña Cebollera (2,129 m) and El Ocejón (2,049 m).
The soil is characterised by being very poor from an agricultural point of view, offering extremely low yields: in surface a clay-loam texture with gravel and occasionally with many pebbles, and an acid constitution and balance. In contrast, it lies in limestone subsoil, which provides a general complexity and balance.
This so-called “raña” soil, is the result of the transport of materials being violently dragged down by unchannelled waters that were then deposited at the foot of the quartzite mountains from where they came, in our case, the Central System. These phenomena occurred in the Neo-Quaternary transit, prior to the establishment of the current fluvial network. In these “rañas” the oldest soils of Europe and the Mediterranean region are to be found.
an incomparable vineyard
The distance of Finca Río Negro to any other vineyard or Denomination of Origin, as well as its unusual altitude and traditional cultivation limit, define a unique microclimate, soil and subsoil, which lend our wines a personality that is unparalleled to those of any other region of the world.
The Río Negro Estate belongs to Cogolludo, in the province of Guadalajara, at the gateway to the Sierra Norte Natural Park, a natural border between the provinces of Guadalajara, Segovia and Soria.This location makes it the most northern vineyard in Castilla-La Mancha, located 55 kilometres from the D.O. Ribera del Duero and 60 kilometres north of the D.O. Wines of Madrid.
As you can see from the Spanish map of Denominations of Origin, it would seem that we have chosen this vineyard, not because of its potential and history, but because it is the furthest from any other vineyard in Spain.
The climate is continental, as corresponds to its location in the centre of the peninsula, although tempered by the 1,000 metres of altitude and the proximity to the Central System. Not in vain, as much for the rigour of its winters, as for its depopulation, this area is known as “The Spanish Siberia”.
This latitude and altitude result in summers being less hot, with maximum temperatures at least 5ºC lower than those in the nearby plateau areas and with much cooler nights. These characteristics are manifested especially in the ripening season. Throughout the months of September and October mild days alternate with cool nights producing a strong contrast between night and day temperatures, resulting decisive in the slow and extraordinarily long maturation process.
The 42 hectares of vineyard area are divided into 32 hectares of red varieties and 10 hectares of white varieties. Among the red varieties, Tempranillo is prominent, and is the main variety traditional of Guadalajara, occupying approximately 55% of the surface. In addition Syrah (25%), Cabernet Sauvignon (15%) and Merlot (5%) are also grown. The surface of white varieties is 100% Gewürztraminer.
The vineyard is divided into a total of 30 plots, depending on variety, inclination, type of soil, orientation, etc., which all receive specific monitoring and management. The work we carry out is respectful with the vine and also the environment, such as the passing of shredders amongst the vines to avoid herbicides together with the fertilization of the vineyard, exclusively based on sheep organic matter.
The harvest is entirely hand-picked, generally taking place well into the month of October, being one of the latest harvests in Spain. During those dates it is most usual for daytime temperatures not to exceed 25ºC and night-time temperatures to approach 0º. This guarantees that the grapes reach the winery in a very fresh condition, preserving their properties and ensuring a slow and controlled fermentation.
The crates used by our harvesters have a maximum capacity of 18 kg to prevent the grapes from being crushed and help the clusters remain intact in the cellar.The winery is located in the centre of the estate and is surrounded by the vineyards, guaranteeing the time elapsing between the moment when a cluster of grapes is cut to when it’s on the selection table, to be almost always under one hour.
Given our location in the traditional cultivation limit, we are forced to adapt the vineyard and the caring of the plants. The vineyard is formed in trellis. On the one hand this makes the most of the lesser insulation than on the plateau, and as a second objective, it minimizes the high risk of late spring frosts, since the cold air weighs more and tends to be deposited on the ground, and so the trellis allows us to place the vegetation at 70 centimetres above the ground. Pruning is carried out very late, during the month of March. This helps delay sprouting for a few days, thus avoiding possible frosts during that brief period. Clusters are removed during veraison, maintaining very low yields, always below 5,000 kilograms per hectare, in this way enabling us to guarantee that the plant will be able to optimally ripen the bunches before the cold arrives.