Dominio de Valdepusa is a Denominación de Origen (DO) de Pago in the autonomía of Castilla-La Mancha. Castilla-La Mancha is a sparsely populated plateau that covers a large region in the center of Spain, and is well known for Miguel de Cervantes’s novel The Adventures of the Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha.
Dominio de Valdepusa has been in the family of the Marqués de Griñón Carlos Falcó since 1292. The family has played an integral part in Spanish culture for centuries. They are rooted in royalty, the military, and Spanish art and literature, including involvement in the publication of the first Spanish grammar book and Spanish-Latin dictionary.
Under the stewardship of Carlos Falcó, Dominio de Valdepusa has been on the leading edge of the Spanish wine industry for the past several decades. It is where Falcó introduced Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon to Spain in 1974, shortly followed by the first experimentation with drip irrigation and night harvesting. Today, Falcó is considered a father of the Spanish wine industry. He is the author of the 18-volume Entender de Vino, the quintessential guide to Spanish winemaking. He is also known for founding the prestigious Grandes Pagos de España association, which recognizes exceptional wine-making properties across Spain.
Valdepusa, like the rest of Castilla-La Mancha, has made wine for millennia. In 2003, the exceptional and unique quality of its terroir was officially recognized, and the property became the first to receive the highest level in the Spanish classification system, “DO de Pago.” This classification refers to wines from single vineyards with special characteristics of a pago. A pago is a land mass with indigenous vegetation determined by the area’s soil type and microclimate that differentiates itself from the surrounding environment. The site must have historically produced wines of exceptional quality and there must be a quality control system in place that complies at minimum with the regulations for a DOCa. There are now 13 DOs de Pago in Spain.
Dominio de Valdepusa cannot be fully explained without describing the surrounding area. Castilla-La Mancha, the autonomía where Dominio de Valdepusa is located, is heavily agricultural with a focus on cereals and saffron. Sheep and goats are widely raised as well.
The region has a distinct Moorish influence, which can be seen in the architecture of its major cities such as Toledo. Toledo is a UNESCO World Heritage site famous for its historical coexistence of Christian, Jewish, and Muslim cultures.
Due to the low population density, Castilla-La Mancha also has a number of beautiful natural reserves. Hiking, biking, fishing, and horseback riding are all popular activities.
The local importance of agriculture, husbandry, and hunting are reflected in the regional cuisine. Lamb, goat, and game birds such as partridge are featured widely in hearty roasts and stews, and marinated and pickled meats and vegetables are popular as well. La Mancha’s most famous gastronomic exports are gazpacho, a cold vegetable-based soup, and Manchego, a sheep’s milk cheese.
Within Castilla-La Mancha, Dominio de Valdepusa is located in the town of Malpica de Tajo approximately 30 miles outside of Toledo. It consists of a single vineyard of 50 hectares of caliza (limestone) soil. Only 20 hectares are under vine, including Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot and Syrah. The balance is pristine land populated by local varieties of oaks, wild olive trees, brush, wild thyme and rosemary, which contribute to the overall complexity and personality of the estate. The family does its utmost to transmit the characteristics of their unique terroir to their grapes.
The local climate is Continental, with hot and dry summer and cold winter. The temperature drops at night year round, which is essential for preserving the grapes’ freshness. The Tagus River runs nearby, providing natural irrigation, and, as its name indicates, the vineyard is located in the Pusa River Valley.
Dominio de Valdepusa produces red wines only, whose primary grape varieties are Syrah, Petit Verdot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Graciano, and Merlot. All wines must be aged for ten months in oak for varietal wines and at least six months for blends.
The philosophy of Dominio de Valdepusa is to implement an international blend and modern technology in the pursuit of wines of great concentration and expression. Prominent Bordeaux oenologists Michel Rolland and Émile Peynaud consult on vinification and renowned soil consultant Dr. Richard Smart oversees the vineyards.