Raúl Pérez Pereira personifies the Bercian sentiment of restlessness. Through his bodega, Castro Ventosa, he has pioneered new kinds of wine from Bierzo, like his Valtuille Cepas Viejas. In addition to his work with the mencía, the area’s main variety, his spirit of discovery has brought surprising results with the petit verdot, the pinot gris and the malbec.
With two and a half centuries of family tradition in the world of viticulture, Raúl Pérez Pereira’s profession seems to be more a matter of destiny than choice. It is a legacy that dominates his philosophy of work and one that swiftly directed him towards the family bodega, after a brief spell at a bodega in Penedès.
“For me the main thing is to understand my limits, to respect the environment and personal surroundings and above all to comprehend the wisdom of my ancestors and therefore to work accordingly”, he comments.
For him, fixed formulas do not exist, every wine, every soil, every parcel and every variety is different. “The differences are infinite, it all plays a part until your emotions take over”, he says.
Even the elaboration process is not subject to rules; it must be adapted to the characteristics of the soil which it must use according to its own development. For him, there are no rules, except one: to work in harmony with the ecosystem. “Our treatments,” comments Raúl, “respect the flora and the environment and we even manage to go without. Above all, we avoid systemic products”.
But beyond the understanding of his birth-place and of his intimate relationship with the Mencía, the investigative talent of the oenologist has led him to initiate daring projects with foreign and unusual varieties such as the petit verdot, the tannat or the malbec.
“I have always been very interested in finding out how these and other varieties in our region would behave and I ask myself, why not find out a little more? Hence the existence of the Allosn Carma (petit verdot), the Rosario (moscatel/pinot gris) or the Portagallola (malbec/tannat)”, he adds.
Unrestricted by the Bierzo borders, the restless oenologist has already set his sights upon the Albariño with which he has elaborated 8 casks in San Vicente do Grove. He submerges these in the sea, at a depth of 30 metres to find out how the wine evolves under hydrostatic pressure.
In addition to all this and in collaboration with the viticulteur José Luis Mateo, for the last five years he has also been involved in an investigation project regarding the merenzao and mencía grapes in Monterrey, and yet another regarding the bastardo and the zamarrica at the Spanish/Portuguese border.