A Bright Star in Bierzo: Veronica Ortega


Bierzo is dominated by two names: Raul Perez and Alvaro Palacios. But, over the last decade, Veronica Ortega proved she’s making wine in Bierzo’s top tier. Her wines are refreshingly different, including shockingly fresh, mouthwatering Godello and aromatic Mencias from multiple terroirs in Bierzo. She recently visited the shop and walked us through her invigorating lineup–all of which are now on Fulton.

Our favorite wines are naturally made from producers who’ve been exposed to the top talents of the world. Veronica is that rare producer. She worked at DRC, Comte Armand, Clos Erasmus and, locally with Raul Perez. Her pedigree is clear in the wines which beautifully merge the unmasked profiles of low-intervention with the fine-wine patience of elevage and oxygen. 

Based in Bierzo's best known winemaking village, Valtuille, she started here (making wine in Raul's cellar) and was able to acquire some choice parcels over time. But, her fruit comes from both here and the lesser known village of Cobrana. Directly north of Valtuille, it's technically Bierzo but it’s a colder, more rugged zone that resembles Galician Mencia as much as Castilla y Leon’s. Between the two villages she has 5 total hectares spread across more than 20 small vineyards planted on a mix of clay, sand, and slate. Most of her vines are over 70 years old (!).

In the cellar there's a strict regimen, each cuvee having a unique fermentation and elevage process. But, all the wines are spontaneously fermented, raised in a mixture of different vessels: tank, wood of various sizes, and amphora. The whites are seriously mouthwatering, carrying brilliant acid structures–finest we’ve seen in Bierzo. It’s no surprise they go through malo as it helps round out the otherwise piercing wines.

The staff with Veronica and her wines on Fulton Street

The wines

21 Veronica Ortega 'La Llorona' Godello, Bierzo, 48/btl
Second vintage, grown on clay and sand, imparting a crystalline minerality. Aged 9 months in barrel. Vibrant and precise. 

21 Veronica Ortega Tormenta Godello, Bierzo, 58/btl
The first vintage of this wine from calcareous soils, resulting in a Godello of a very sharp and mineral profile. Light skin maceration and aged 13 months in barrel and amphora. Subtle notes of green tea, white flowers, citrus, and saline. 

‘21 Veronica Ortega 'Quite' Mencia, Bierzo, 27/btl
From a series of plots in Valtuille de Abajo. Mencia vineyards around 90/100 years old on clay-sandy soils with boulders predominant in Bierzo. A destemmed style for everyday drinking. Quaffable and dangerously easy to drink.

‘21 Veronica Ortega 'VO' Version Original Mencia, Bierzo, 47/btl
From two very old plots (100+ years) of Mencía in Valtuille de Abajo. The Mencia is fermented with a small amount of Alicante Bouschet, all whole cluster. Floral nose and firm but elegant structure.

'21 Veronica Ortega 'Cobrana', Bierzo, 58/btl
75% Mencía with the remaining 15% local grapes (Palomino Fino, Godello, Doña Blanca with Alicante Bouschet and Estaladiña). Whole cluster fermentation with indigenous yeasts and extended skin contact. 12 months malo and aging in amphora and barrel. 

20 Veronica Ortega 'ROC' Mencia, Bierzo, 58/btl
Mencia-dominant blend similar to 'Cobrana.' 50% whole cluster fermentation, aged 14 months in neutral French oak. A more classic style of Bierzo that's concentrated, spiced, and elegant.