DO Bierzo is located in the northwest of the province of Castilla and Leon and is one of the most exciting wine regions of Spain. Its indigenous Mencia is the star red grape with its deep, intense colour, aromatic red and black fruit flavours, hints of graphite terroir and great ageing capabilities. Other authorised red grapes include Garnacha Tintorera, experimental Tempranillo, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. Vineyards cover an area of just under 4000 ha many of which are over 100 years old. It borders on the provinces of Ourense, Lugo and Oviedo in the north, and in the south, on areas of La Montaña, La Cabrera and La Meseta, in León. The main viticultural areas are located in the Rio Sil valley and consist of two parts: Bierzo Alto, a mineral rich and mountainous terrain where terraced vineyards are sewn into the slopes and Bierzo Bajo, a wide, flat verdant plain. Viticulture in this region dates back to Roman times but the greatest expansion was related to the growth of the monasteries, especially the Cistercian order, during the Middle Ages on the Camino de Santiago, the pilgrim road to Santiago de Compostela, that passes through Bierzo. After centuries of production and achieving a good reputation in the markets of Galicia and Asturias, the Bierzo vineyards suffered a terrible blow in the 19th century when phylloxera practically wiped them out.There was a severe economic crisis, which forced many people to emigrate. Production was slowly re-established thanks to the technique of grafting on to new world rootstocks and wine production gradually recovered to assume the significant economic role it had played in the past.
In 1989, DO Bierzo was officially recognised. Bierzo has a special microclimate, which is beneficial for viticulture. On the one hand, its proximity to the Atlantic Ocean makes it similar to the climate of Galicia with regard to humidity and rainfall, and on the other, it is also similar to the hot, dry climate of Castile. The low altitude, ranging from 500m to 650m, also helps to prevent late frosts and means that the harvest is usually about one month earlier than the rest of Castile. The average annual temperature is around 12°C, with a minimum in winter of 3.5°C and maximum in summer of 24°C. The average annual rainfall is about 700mm, and the vines receive minimum 2,200 hours of sunshine per annum. The soils in the mountains consist of a mixture of slate and granite, which favours the Mencia vines, and helps produce its distinct mineral character. The wines tend to be lighter in terms of alcohol and more refreshing than those from other parts of Castilla y León. The vineyards are planted mainly on humid, dark soil, which is slightly acidic and low in carbonates.
Vinos de Arganza is a young winery located in Toral de los Vados, south of Villafranca del Bierzo in the heart of the Bierzo region. It was established in 2000 by Victor Robla, a well-respected winemaker, and produces young wines 40% and Roble and Crianza 60%. They own 20 ha of vineyards as well as holding long-term contracts with selected "viticultores" in the area. The main objective of the winery is to make the most of the terroir,using fruit from old vines to create wines of both old and new world characteristics sold at astonishingly great value prices. The 1500 sq. m. winery has state of the art equipment for the elaboration and bottling of the wines, and 1800 barrels of French and American oak. Production now reaches 1,800,000 bottles for both domestic and export markets. In 2007, the winery was awarded the BRC Global Standard certificate and IFS.
on the underlined grape varieties for more information.