Raúl Pérez Pereira is universally considered to be one of the world’s most visionary winemakers. Since he produced his first vintage for his family’s winery in 1994 at the age 22, he has been in the forefront of the conversation about what has been called “The New Spain”. In 2005, he left his family business to strike out on his own, creating Bodegas y Viñedos Raúl Pérez, which quickly became the point of reference for the Bierzo appellation. In the intervening years, he has expanded his sphere of activity to include the appellations of Rías Baixas, Ribeira Sacra and Tierra de León, but his heart and his home remain in Valtuille de Abajo, the village in Bierzo where his family has been tending vines for well over 300 years.
In addition to numerous other accolades, Raúl was named “Winemaker of the Year” by German publication Der Feinschmecker in 2014 and “Best Winemaker in the World” for 2015 by the French publication Bettane+Desseauve. In the February 2018 Decanter, Master of Wine Pedro Ballesteros wrote, “Raúl Pérez is the archetype of the intuitive winemaking genius.” A picture of Raúl in that same article is captioned, “Is this the best winemaker in the world?” Raúl would certainly not self-apply any of these superlatives. In fact, his genius is far exceeded by his humility and generosity of spirit. That humility comes through in his wines. These are not “winemaker” wines so much as they are unadulterated expressions of the villages and vineyards from which they hail. Practicing Organic.
Bodegas Y Vinedos Raul Perez Ultreia St. Jacques Bierzo Tinto is a single-vineyard wine made by Bodegas y Vinedos Raul Perez. The vineyard is located just west of the town of Valtuille de Abajo in the Bierzo DO region. Rather than the robust, earthy side of Mencia, this limited-production cuvee is more about the youthful, fresh and vivid flavors of the grape. The word ‘Ultreia’ pays tribute to the many pilgrims that have passed by this site since the 3rd Century, en route to Santiago de Compostela and the crypt of James the Apostle. ‘Ultreia’ comes from the Medieval Latin used by travelers to encourage each other, as they pressed onward toward their destination. The word means ”Onward!” and ‘St. Jacques’ is French for St. James. For centuries, there’s been a heavy French influence in this part of Spain because the pilgrimage originates in four French cities: Paris, Vezelay, Le Puy and Arles. Many French families from all trades, including vignerons from Burgundy, the Rhone, and Bordeaux, have passed these glorious vineyards to pay homage to James the Apostle. Raul Perez is one of Spain’s finest winemakers and some wine trade veterans believe Raul is among a handful of the best winemakers in the world. Raul believes great wines are made in the vineyard and he has an uncanny knack for knowing what his vineyards need to achieve their greatest potential. As his great talent has become known, many winemakers now seek to collaborate with Raul.
The truly impressive Ultreia Saint Jacques transcends its price category. They destemmed more grapes because they fermented it in the oak vats they bought from Vega Sicilia to use in the new winery, where it macerated for two months and then matured in used barrels for nine to 10 months. The secret is to use very good grapes from very good vineyards. The wine is clean, precise and fresh, and the oak is super-subtle, almost unnoticeable. The palate reflects a fluid wine of pleasure, a red of thirst. This is the wine where they have invested more, and it is outstanding.