Today wine travel is an all-encompassing experience. Many wineries are not just a location but a destination that includes accommodation, restaurant, and winery. In Spain, one place that offers a unique opportunity for a European wine adventure is Abadia Retuerta LeDomaine.
Recently I attended a wine tasting luncheon with Enrique Valero, Abadia Retuerta LeDomaine’s CEO. The luncheon at Tesse in West Hollywood featured a specially prepared meal orchestrated by owner Jordan Ogron. Besides experiencing the restaurant, I discovered the wines of Abadia Retuerta LeDomaine and its estate. If the winery, accommodations, and restaurant are as impressive as the wines, it is a special place to visit. The experience would be an epicurean delight that tantalizes all five senses and one to place on any wine lovers’ future travel list. I am therefore sharing information about both the wines I sampled and the beauty and cultural heritage of this location.
Located in the heart of the Duero Valley Abadia Retuerta LeDomaine combines history, culture, art, and wine with relaxation. A restored Abbey becomes the focal point of the winery experience. The origins of the Abbey dates back to 1146. Today the Abbey sits on a 1730 acre estate. Originally the Bishop of Valladolid, Sancho Ansúrez received the land to build an abbey for the French Premonstratensian Order. The Santa Maria de Retuerta Abbey was erected in the Baroque-Romanesque style with a classic Benedictine floor plan. Since Napoleon destroyed many abbeys across Spain Abadia Retuerta is one of two Abbeys still in existence.
The restoration of the Abbey takes into consideration its historical and cultural heritage. Swiss architect Marco Serra kept the Abbey’s historical significance by maintaining the overall structure but adapted modern convenience and technology to bring the building up to today’s standards. The monk’s cells became the hotel’s guest rooms and suites. Each room overlooks the vineyards. The Refectory is now a restaurant. The hotel opened in 2006 and now considered one of the top wine destinations in Europe.
The hotel features the Refectorio Restaurant that claims one Michelin Star for the last four years under the tutelage of Executive Chef Marc Segarra. The focus of the restaurant is emphasizing the freshest of local ingredients to create both traditional and innovative dishes. In addition to the Refectorio, there are two other restaurants on the property.
The Santuario Wellness & Spa with the assistance of a Spa Sommelier offers guests a unique relaxing spa experience. Your spa visit starts with a blind wine tasting to determine the wine aromas to complement the oil and wellness treatment.
For the art lover, Abadia Retuerta LeDomaine is home to the artwork of many well-known artists from the Baroque and Rococo periods. On the premises is the Hedge Museum, an open-air sculpture garden with works from German Artist Ulrich Rückriem.
Abadia Retuerta Winery and Vineyards
The Abadia Retuerta Estate has produced wine for centuries, but in 1991 the current vineyards were planted with its first vintage occurring the following year. Today 350 acres are planted with Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Merlot, and Petit Verdot. The vineyard is composed of 54 distinct plots that vinify separately.
Mixing traditional winemaking methods with new technological advances, the winery technical director is Angel Anocibar Beloqui, and technical advisor is Pascal Delbeck. They reflect the aspirations of this award-winning winery.
With attention to detail, the winery is built into the hill on several levels allowing for gravity-flow production. The gravity system combines two components: one to fill and one to empty. Casks are racked in a unique system permitting easy access for racking the wine.
The winery philosophy is to respect the land yet at the same time work the best way they can to produce the best wine. The winery is sustainable utilizing solar panels, gravity and must vinegar as a pesticide.
A grove of pine trees surround the vineyards acting as protection. Pine nuts are harvested from these trees. Abadia Retuerta also produces honey, and a wine salt made form an old formula.
Abadia Retuerta Wines
Our tasting started with Abadia Retuerta, Le Domaine 2016 Blanco de Guardia, the winery’s only white combines Sauvignon Blanc primarily with Verdejo and a bit of Godello. The wine aged five months in French oak barrels. This wine came to be by mistake. The winery thought they had some white merlot in the vineyard and it turned out to be Sauvignon Blanc. The wine exhibits bright viscous qualities with aromas of honey and flavors of pear.
The next course featured two Abadia Retuerta, Pago Negralada, the 2012 and 2014. The Tempranillo grapes come from a single vineyard, and the goal of these wines is to showcase the terroir, which consists of vines planted in deep gravel soils with sandy surfaces. The wine ages 18 months in new French oak.
With the 2014 Pago Negralada, I found a well-blended, balanced and smooth wine that on the nose displayed savory cherry and other red fruit and bright cherry on the palate.
The 2012 Pago Negralada seemed more complex because of a cooler growing year. The wine appeared more earthy and not as together as the 2014.
Both these wines were paired with a Burrata of Oregon Porcini Duxelles, Port and Roquette. The mushrooms were a nice touch for these wines.
A Beef Tartare “A L’Huile D’ Olive” with caper berries, shallots, Grana Padano and chive aioli paired nicely with the 2004 Pago Negralada. This wine showcased darker fruits and a delight to sample — a perfect example of aging of Tempranillo.
The 2015 Abadia Retuerta Pago Valdebellón complemented a course of Pork Belly with charred carrots and Boudon Noir. This Cabernet Sauvignon comes from one of the oldest vineyards on the estate. With soil composition of limestone; this vineyard receives lots of early morning sun. The wine ages for 17 months in new French oak. On the nose, one finds green pepper, and on the palate, the wine displays vegetal qualities accented by blackcurrant.
Our final wine, the 2014 Abadia Retuerta PV Petit Verdot paired exceptionally to a dry-aged TBone, “old-style” Pistou with Charred Broccolini and waffle potatoes. This grape comes from a vineyard that contains sandy soils. The wine ages for 17 months in new French oak. The wine is well-balanced, bright and fresh exhibiting flavors of black cherry. This wine is dry but elegant. Few wineries create outstanding 100% Petit Verdot wine and Abadia Retuerta is one that earns a place on a shortlist of wineries producing an excellent interpretation of this variety.
Although I did not sample this wine, the flagship wine of Abadia Retuerta is the Selección Especial, a wine blending Tempranillo primarily with Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and a small portion of Merlot and Petit Verdot. The wine ages 11 months in French and American oak.
As stated earlier, if you are looking for an extraordinary winery destination experience Abadia Retuerta LeDomaine is one not to miss. I know this estate is on my bucket list of wineries to visit on my next trip to Spain.
As a side note, based on the meal I encountered at Tesse, I highly recommend dining at this restaurant. Also discovering their wine store, Bottelia because they carry some hard to find wines.
Note: Common to the wine industry, this writer attended a hosted wine tasting luncheon. While it has not influenced this review, the writer believes in full disclosure.