Bodegas Ysios is a special place in the World of wine…
Just look at it! Noticing anything unusual?
Located near the village of Laguardia in the Rioja Alavesa sub-area of the wider and famous Spanish Rioja wine region, Ysios winery stands proud at the foothills of the Sierra Cantabria mountains, those mountains that separate Rioja from Basque country and protects the area from the cold and humid oceanic influences.
Believe me, the whole site, not only the winery building, is simply breathtaking!
Have a look at this video I made using a drone, and tell me you wouldn’t want to see it for yourself, or continue reading down below…
Why the name Ysios?
Bodegas Ysios was named as a tribute to the two Egyptian gods, Isis and Osiris who are intimately related to the world of wine in the mythology. From Egypt are also inspired the vineyard channels (see drone aerial view below) that surround the winery, symbolically collecting “the essence of the Nile River”.
Avant-Garde Winery Design by artist Santiago Calatrava
The winery building designed by architect Santiago Calatrava was inaugurated in 2001. Ysios was then part of the Domecq Bodegas group. Ysios is now part of Pernod-Ricard winemakers.
Its construction took place while Rioja knew a series of avant-garde constructions wineries in the Rioja, also known as “bodegas de author”.
Santiago Calatrava Valls is a Spanish/Swiss architect, structural engineer, sculptor and painter whose design projects include the City of Arts and Sciences of Valencia or the Montjuic Communications Tower in Barcelona.
At Ysios, the walls of the main façade you see as you arrive, to the south, are covered in horizontal wooden slats of cedar giving a natural feel to the building, some would say in “harmony with the natural beauty of the surrounding mountains” (I actually wrote this!).
— Julien Miquel #Wine (@JMiquelWine) April 10, 2015
As a contrast, the roof is made of undulating wood beams covered in shiny aluminum panels giving a fascinating and modern aspect.
The prominent front of the winery hosts the visitor’s entrance, the cellar door, and upstairs, a tasting room with a splendid view over the vineyards and the village of Laguardia.
Indeed, based on an ancient Spanish tradition imposing that all roads should be built pointing towards the closest church, Ysios winery is built directly facing to the village, in a straight line.
The Ysios Winery consists of over 8,000 square feet of a long building space to accommodate the whole winemaking process.
Bodegas Ysios Vineyards
Grapes for the elaboration of Bodega Ysios wines are 100% Tempranillo, sourced from all 8 sub-zones of the Rioja Alavesa.
Average age of vines on the vineyards is 35. But some grapes are sourced from extremely old vines (over 80 years old). So old are some vineyards that they are planted in the old tradition as a field blend, with mixed old grape varieties planted on the same plot, even occasionally including some white Viura grapes.
The Rioja Alavesa part of Rioja is cooler that the rest of the region, and is covered with limestone-rich soils. This particular climate and terroir gives wines more acidity, minerality and tension to the fruit expression than warmer areas such as the Southern Rioja Baja. The early-ripening Tempranillo is the most suited Rioja grape to Alavesa.
Bodegas Ysios Wines
Ysios wines take a modern approach to Rioja wine using French oak barrels rather American one, and respecting the expression of the fruit, with the right amount of time in barrel.
The Bodega sources quality oak wood from France directly, and have the barrels assembled locally. 800 barrels are used in total so the winemaker tastes them all and can evaluate how each of them is doing, which cooper works with what, age of the oak, toasting level, etc.
See my review of vintage 2011 Bodegas Ysios Reserva:
While the 2011 vintage stands proud at a solid 92/100 pts, at the winery, I also tasted the blend of what will become vintage 2015 (not yet bottled) that is looking very promising. 2015 is tight with great acidity, vibrant fruit, dense tannins, and tasting like a 93-95 pts wine to me at this stage.
Young winemaker Roberto Vicente is also working towards the release of single vineyard wines to showcase the variety of terroirs and old-vines fruit concentration found around Ysios. All sourced from exceptional all vines, these single vineyard wines promise to be particularly interesting, bringing the approach to winemaking in Rioja to a whole new level, like in Burgundy, to a cru level.
The quality of Ysios wines seems to be progressing fast, and will certainly soon be shining bright as some of the most interesting wines in Rioja.
Bodegas Ysios Winemaker: Roberto Vicente
Vicente joined Bodegas Ysios as early as 2007, but he also went through the other Rioja winery in the Pernod-Ricard group, Campo Viejo, working alongside winemaker Elena Adell.
From my experience, a few hours chatting and tasting wine with him, Roberto clearly appears as a friendly and talented winemaker, one to watch in the future.
Watch another of my Drone Video of Ysios on Twitter:
— Julien Miquel #Wine (@JMiquelWine) July 21, 2017