As a young student of enology, Jorge Monzón traveled to Burgundy. Despite not speaking a word of French or having any recommendations, let alone experience, he convinced Domaine La Romanée-Conti to take him on as an intern. His eagerness and desire to learn led him to shadow maître de chai, Bernard Noblet, observing all the steps he took to create the famed wines of this historic Domaine.
Returning to Ribera del Duero, Jorge began purchasing old vineyards around his hometown of La Aguilera – parcels in danger of being ripped up and replaced with more productive clones of Tempranillo as well as “fashionable” Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot, and Malbec. These undesirable vineyards were ancient, unproductive massale selections of Tempranillo mixed with a diverse range of other varieties – all “useless” in a region that prized extraction, production, and the “ameliorating” contribution made by international varieties.
However, his years at DRC did not addle Jorge’s brain, they only convinced him that terroir and tradition matter. His vineyards, some planted before phylloxera, were planted exactly as they had been for centuries – predominantly Tempranillo with a wide genetic diversity alongside Albillo, Tempranillo Gris, Cariñena, Garnacha, Bobal, Bruñal and other varieties so obscure that they haven’t been identified yet. Ranging in age from 60-150+ years old, it is surprising that these vines survived at all.
Together with his wife, Isabel Rodero, Jorge founded Dominio del Águila in 2010, and they have expanded their vineyards to 66 hectares. Farming is certified organic and Isabel, an architect, supervised the renovation of three ancient cellars dating to the 15th century dug deep into the bedrock under the village. Natural yeast, whole cluster co-fermentations are the first step in the process with pigeage done by foot. After primary fermentation, the wines are placed in oak barrels for malo and aging. Their cold, subterranean cellars ensure that their wines’ evolution proceeds slowly, allowing for the development of greater complexity and nuance.