Hiriart is a new bodega with an old history. Wine was first made here in 1750, at a time when grapes were still pressed in wooden vats. Later, in the nineteenth century, the original wooden barrels were replaced with cement cuves.
The brand new bodega Hiriart has been built on top of the old storage rooms, which you can visit to this day. The current owners' great-grandparents were wool traders who came into to contact with the viticulture of Bordeaux and brought back the newest wine technology of the time to Cigales.
Meanwhile, technologies have continued to evolve and the bodega has become a state-of-the art winery, with real respect for the old traditions of winemaking in the area - a splendid combination of the cultures of Bordeaux and Castille!
Cigales has always been associated with aromatic and rosé wines. However, once the area had gained D.O. status, the producers also took an interest in making red wine. They followed the example of other D.O.’s from the Duero Valley and also exploited the potential of the most important grape variety of the region, Tempranillo, also known as Tinta del País. The soil, climate and grape varieties of this small wine region (still fewer than 3,000 hectares), along with the first results achieved by the bodegas, point towards a huge amount of future promise. The Consejo Regulador of the D.O. has also written new regulations allowing other grape varieties – Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot for red wine and Sauvignon Blanc for rosé wine - to improve the quality of the wine.
Just like other D.O.’s in Castilla y León, Cigales supplied Vallodolid and other cities with wine in the Middle Ages. While Toro supplied red wine and Rueda white wine, Cigales supplied claret. Until recently, this wine was made in small, old wine cellars, like anthills next to the small towns of the D.O.
These cellars were often shared by several small winemakers and some were as deep as ten metres.
The D.O. is located immediately to the north of Valladolid and its vineyards extend northwards almost as far as the Province of Palencia. They are crossed by the Pisuerga River, which has sloping terraces cut into its right bank. Most of the vineyards are located at an altitude of 700 to 800 metres and are generally planted on flat ground. The soil is light brown in colour and consists of chalky sand and loam with a bottom layer of marl and clay. It has a granular structure with few stones and little organic material.
The region has the characteristic continental climate of the central meseta with Atlantic influences and strongly fluctuating temperatures. These often fall beneath freezing in the winter, with frosts late into the spring, which is a real risk to winemaking. Summers are hot with temperatures climbing to nearly 40ºC. Rainfall is very low (425 mm per year) and mostly occurs in the spring and autumn.
The grape varieties employed are the classic ones of the Duero Valley: Tinta del País (Tempranillo), Garnacha and Garnacha Grís. The white grape varieties are Albillo and Verdejo, traditionally used to give aroma to rosés.
A few of the larger wineries are currently experimenting with imported grape varieties: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Sauvignon Blanc. The vines are mostly still planted in the traditional 'gobelet' style, but new vineyards, which are mostly Tinta del País, use trellis and other supporting structures. They are sometimes irrigated too. The harvest has been brought forward in recent years and mostly begins around 26 September.
The traditional rosés of Cigales have been updated to make them fresher and more aromatic, to align with the preferences of the current market. The first red wines to be made since the end of the 1990s, produced by a handful of progressive bodegas, make use of some interesting experimental blends. The Tempranillo-Cabernet Sauvignon blend is particularly promising. These wines have the right characteristics for ageing to become excellent Crianzas and Reservas.
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