The undulating contour of Ysios winery runs majestically across the rugged mountains of Cantabria in Spain’s Alava Rioja region. The winery represents the epitome of 21st century modernity Rioja, Spain’s most exclusive Denomination of Origin. The name Ysios is a statement of intent and pays special tribute to Isis and Osiris, Egyptian deities deeply linked to the history of wine.
The Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava was hired to design this unprecedented winery, which made its debut in 2001. Calatrava is one of the world’s most celebrated architects who has authored iconic buildings such as the Museum Complex of the City of Arts and Sciences in Valencia, Spain, the Turning Torso skyscraper in Malmo, Sweden, the James Joyce bridge in Dublin, the Stadelhofen railway station in Zurich, and the BCE building in Toronto, among other architectural masterpieces. Currently under completion, one of the architect’s most ambitious projects is soon to be inaugurated: the New York transport terminal at the World Trade Center.
Calatrava led a multidisciplinary team of professionals to carry out a very specific mission: building a unique, state-of-the-arts structure, conceived as a place of worship and development of high quality wines. In order to achieve their goal, the team took into consideration the opinions and perspectives of the individuals who work at the winery. Therefore, Ysios is not just a beautiful building, but also a functional place that contributes to the development of better winemaking processes.
The building is 220 yards long, supported by two reinforced concrete walls and covered on the outside by vertical wooden slats, which reflect on the surrounding pond creating a mirage of large barrels, which reminds us of the objective for which it was created: making magnificent wines. The exterior is the fundamental element of the project’s design. Natural aluminum was used to contrast with the warmth provided by the wood. Its outer shell combines concave and convex surfaces that reflect the sunlight to create the illusion of movement echoing the color changes from the adjoining vineyards. The pond was lined with ceramic pieces and recalls the temples dedicated to Isis and Osiris along the banks of the river Nile.
Ysios winery produces a select range of reserve wines, and unique coupage, the result of the experiments conducted in the cellar by the expert winemaking team directed by Luis Zudaire, a renowned winemaker trained at the University of Montpellier in France.
Currently, the aging of Ysios wines lasts between 14 and 16 months in French, American and Hungarian oak barrels, with different roasting levels to enhance the aromas of the tempranillo grape characteristic of the area. To end the aging process, the wine remains in the bottle for a minimum of 22 months.
Zudaire explains: “Our aim is to improve the fruity flavor that comes from the grape and to add complexity to the wine by aging it in barrels from multiple sources, and with different toasting methods to achieve a deep, silky reserve.”
Two of the most outstanding vintages from Ysios are Ysios Limited Edition Reserve and Ysios Reserve.
Ysios Limited Edition Reserve is a 100% tempranillo varietal. It is made with the best grapes produced in a plot that is more than 80 years old. An exceptional blend of only 9,000 numbered bottles, its color is deep cherry red. It is intense on the nose, with aromas of ripe black fruit and an elegant and light roasted background. The palate is broad and highly structured with friendly and polished tannins and a long lingering finish.
Ysios Reserve is 100% tempranillo. Distinguished for its complexity and elegance, it reflects the variety of oaks and toasting levels used in its elaboration. It has an attractive ruby red color, good intensity on the nose with aromas of ripe black fruit and elegant toasted nuances. On the palate, it is broad with well-integrated tannins. It has a good balance and lingering finish.
Ysios Reserva 2007 and Ysios Limited Edition 2009 are currently available for sale. Both wines faithfully reflect the philosophy of the winery: providing elegant and exclusive wines, which result from rigorous and careful preparation.
As evidence of this culture of excellence, Ysios Reserva 2007 has garnered the most prestigious awards in international competitions, including gold medals at the Concours Mondial de Bruxelles 2013 and Decanter World Wine Awards 2013, which highlight Ysios’s remarkable winemaking style, whose commitment to modernity is revealed both in the beauty of their stunning winery and in the great quality of their wines. ■