Bierzo has adopted a new quality-based classification system for its wines, closely following the Burgundian structure of regional, village, and single-vineyard wines. In the Vino de Villa classification system, 100% of the grapes must come from vineyards within the designated village, and yields are more than 20% below the limit for D.O. Bierzo. Other quality-conscious regulations have been implemented that now make the Bierzo appellation a leading producer of fine wine in not only Spain but in the whole of Europe. All of JAG’s cuvées are classified according to the new qualitative structure.
In Valtuille de Abajo, equally crucial to the quality and resulting complexity and liveliness of their wines is the genetic heritage of their ancient vines of mencía, godello, alicante bouchet, merenzao, palomino, and doña blanca. With native vines planted mostly before the industrialization of Spanish wine (some vines in Valtuille being more than 200 years old), JAG’s vineyards provide an unspoiled genetic window to another era before modern clones were selected for higher yields. The viticulture is by hand and strictly organic, as their philosophy has always been to make their wines as natural as possible. As a result, they have never used chemicals in the vineyard. It’s one thing to produce wines naturally; it’s another thing entirely to produce naturally-made wine from old-vine vineyards like these, which are among the oldest in Europe. The only compost used is local, organic chestnuts, which grow in the vineyards. To make wines any other way would be unthinkable to their philosophy of regeneration and rebirth. It is their legacy to leave Bierzo better than they found it for their children.
Their flagship Valtuille Vino de Villa is from low-yielding vines in the village of Valtuille de Abajo, highlighting the virtues of JAG’s oldest bush-trained vineyards from their home village with mixed alluvial and clay soils with a wide variety of stones planted at 550m altitude. It is produced from co-fermented mencía and 15% white grapes (doña blanca, palomino, and godello) from different old vineyards selected for high quality.
Jose and Julia are also working single vineyards planted in slate and quartz soils in the highly coveted Corullón Vino de Villa appellation. Approaching the Corullón mountain, the Río Burbia (which empties into the Sil River) marks the change in soil types from the red, ferric-clay iron deposits of Valtuille to the darker, volcanic clay/slates (with no iron) of the Corullón area. The old, native bush vines of mencía, godello, palomino, and doña blanca share acreage on the mountain with chestnut trees, from which Jose and Julia use the shells as natural compost. Several small vineyards planted on pure, black slate soils were blended into one Corullón village wine. Among them, Pico de Lugar and Las Tías stand out as exceptional sites of great historical importance. These are very small, long-held family vineyards in the Corullón village with an average vine age of 70 to 100 years and altitudes that range from 650m to 980m. Las Tías, one of the primary vineyards, lies in the transitional zone between the provinces of Lugo and Castilla y León, connecting Bierzo to Valdeorras and the Val do Bibei in Ribeira Sacra. As such, it receives the most Atlantic influence of all the vineyards in Corullón.
Their cuvée Corullón Vino de Villa showcases the wilder and deeper character of the wines from the slate, quartzite, and limestone soils on the slopes of Corullón. It has fine minerality that makes it neatly textured and a structure that is well-suited to improvement in bottle.