Raúl Pérez Pereira is universally considered to be one of the world’s greatest winemakers. Since he produced his first vintage at his family’s winery in 1994 at the age of 22, he has been in the forefront of the conversation about what has come to be called “The New Spain”. Raúl was born in the…
Raúl Pérez Pereira is universally considered to be one of the world’s greatest winemakers. Since he produced his first vintage at his family’s winery in 1994 at the age of 22, he has been in the forefront of the conversation about what has come to be called “The New Spain”. Raúl was born in the village of Valtuille de Abajo (pop. 82) in 1972. Though he initially was meant to go to medical school, the lure of the vineyards was too strong, and he was drawn into the family business. He was appointed chief winemaker of Castro Ventosa, his family’s winery, in 1993. He does not, however, count 1993 as his first vintage as it was a catastrophic harvest from which there were barely any grapes to make wine. So it could be said that his career as a winemaker began in earnest 25 years ago with the 1994 vintage.
After garnering much acclaim for his work at Castro Ventosa, Raúl began to develop some projects outside of the family bodega. In 2005, he produced the first vintage of what would become his most personal and important wine: Ultreia de Valtuille. The wine is made from grapes grown on a sandy plot of vines planted in 1890. Vintage after vintage, it is a reference point wine, not just for the Bierzo appellation, but for Spanish wine as a whole. The Ultreia line has since expanded to include a dozen or so other bottlings, including one made in the Douro Valley in partnership with Dirk Niepoort and another from Swartland, South Africa, made in partnership with Eben Sadie. In 2011, Raúl introduced the La Vizcaína label, an exploration of single-cru wines from Valtuille de Abajo. In 2013, he established Castro Candaz, a project based in the Chantada zone of the Ribeira Sacra appellation that he produces in partnership with Rodrigo Méndez. The latest addition to Raúl’s portfolio is Atalier, an Albariño from 150-year-old pre-phylloxera vines in the Val do Salnés region of Rías Baixas.
Raúl has received far too much adoration in the international wine press to fully catalogue the accolades here, but a recent interview he did with Pedro Ballesteros, MW, for Decanter featured the tagline, “Is Raúl Pérez the greatest winemaker in the world?” Raúl would certainly not accept that title, as his winemaking genius is far outstripped by his humility and generosity of spirit. Raúl lives in Valtuille de Abajo with his partner, Grizel, and their children, Raúl, 4, and Rosario, 1.