Producer Q & A: Miguel Arroyo of Bodega Arroyo Izquierdo, Rueda, Spain

Updated: 2 days ago


“I was first introduced to Miguel Arroyo through the Andreas sisters, Ruth and Ana who own and operate Alegra, another Verdejo producer in Rueda. Other than the help he gets from Ruth and Ana in both domestic and international sales, Miguel is truly a one man show, and the wines he makes, unique standouts among Verdejo, are truly worth his efforts.

We have always worked with Rueda producers over the years, but honestly most of them just weren’t that interesting. A lot of Rueda producers make commercial wines, blended with Viura and Sauvignon Blanc, and often are made using laboratory yeasts. Tasting Miguel’s wines is a completely different experience. Unlike many of his regional colleagues, Miguel’s wines are made with 100% Verdejo, his vines are a century old, his soil is simply made for Verdejo, and he has designed his vineyards in such a way that an entire vineyard can be harvested in a single day - at the exact peak moment of harvest. All of this care and concentration creates wines that are precise, interesting, and evocative of the person and the land they came from.”


- Importer of Bodega Arroyo Izquierdo, Ben Martin



Appellation: D.O. Rueda

Number of Producers in the appellation: There are over 70 wineries, some of them are quite big.

Total production and different wines:

Demimo Verdejo - 250,000 bottles 

Mus Lias Verdejo - 40,000 bottles

Mus 'Barrel Fermented' Verdejo - 6,000 bottles 

Cork Closures:

Demimo Verdejo - Plastic

Mus Lias Verdejo - Natural Cork

Mus 'Barrel Fermented' Verdejo - Natural Cork 

Q: How did you end up at the winery?

A: I am the fourth generation of grape growers, but the first one to build a winery and make wine commercially. My family has always sold the grapes and made a little bit of wine for our own consumption. When I finished schooling I decided that making wine and taking care of the our 100 year old vineyards was what I wanted to do. I learned winemaking with a very talented New Zealand wine maker and I kept taking care of the vineyards the way my family has always done.

Q: What is your role?

A: I do everything: work on the vineyard, make the wine, all the business aspects. I get a little bit of help with sales, but other than that it is a one man show with people working with me only when labor is required for things like picking grapes, cleaning the winery, bottling, etc...


The vineyards at Bodega Arroyo Izquierdo.


Q: Everyone talks about terroir. What makes yours unique?

A: I am located in Puras, which is the highest elevation in the Rueda appellation. I have the history of my land behind me. Most of the appellation plantings have been done in the last 30 years and in places that are not necessarily optimal for vines. My vineyards have been in Puras for centuries. I have a lot of old vineyards that don’t need irrigation and that produce amazing quality. Our soils are the best for the Verdejo grape variety. Lots of stones on the surface and then sand, clay and limestone underneath.

Q: What do you do to keep your wines and land healthy?

A: When you have vines that are as old as mine there is very little you need to do. They are perfectly adapted to the environment and they regulate themselves. They have deep long roots and can get water even when we have a very dry summer, which is often here.

Q: How many different grape varieties do you work with?

A: Only two: Mostly Verdejo and a little bit of Sauvignon blanc.

Q: If you use non Indigenous grapes , what is the reason?

A: We use an small percentage of Sauvignon Blanc because some of our local costumers like something different. Everything we send to other markets outside of Spain is 100% Verdejo.


Miguel's Verdejo grapes.


Q: What is the most difficult part of the wine business?

A: The most difficult part is to sell high-end wine from an appellation that is more well know for inexpensive, simple wine. I need to demonstrate why my wines are more expensive than most and the only way is by showing samples and bringing costumers to see my vineyards so they understand why what we do here is another level compared with your regular Rueda.

Q: What are your goals for the winery?

A: I do not want to grow. I want to keep making the best wines possible with the vineyards that I own. I do not want to compromise quality. I need to get the message out. Why my terroir is better and why Verdejo can be a top great variety at the same level of Chardonnay, Sauvignon blanc, Albariño or any other.

Q: What impact is climate change having on your vineyards?

A: We are picking grapes a little earlier than usual, but other than that our climate is very continental which means that every vintage is different.

Q: Tell us something about your region or area; history, music, art, etc.

A: This is the heart of Castilla. The beginning of the creation of Spain. We have a roman history too with ruins and old buildings. There are a lot of museums here. Most people moved to the cities in the 1960s, therefore agriculture and cattle raising is the way of living here nowadays.

Q: Tell us a little bit about the food of your region.

A: We are the best at two things: suckling pig and lamb. Both are raised in the area and we inherited from the romans these wonderful ceramic ovens that cook both the pig and the lamb to an absolute perfection.

Q: What is your favorite local restaurant?

A: El Caballero de Olmedo.

Q: What is their specialty?

A: Lechazo al horno (Lamb), Cochinillo al Horno (suckling pig) and Oxtail. 

Q: What do you eat at home with your wine?

A: I like to eat simple food at home; salads, fish, etc. Because of my line of work I go to restaurants all the time, so when I am at home I like to take it easy with the food.


Q: What do you fo for fun?

A: I have a horse who I love to get lost with enjoying the beautiful landscape of my town. Especially where I can see the mountains that separate my region from Madrid on the clear days.

Q: What about your next vacation?

A: I love the south of Spain for vacation. I live in a very dry place. Therefore being close to the beach from time to time feels great!

Q: Anything else we should know about the winery or you?

A: I am single and don’t have a family, which allows me to dedicate myself to my work and I am able to spend the time necessary in the winery without having to depend on anybody else. I don't know how long this situation will last, but so far so good. Still young!!!!!!





Miguel Arroyo Izquierdo Demimo 2019

D.O. Rueda, Spain

$25


100% Verdejo, organically farmed, and aged in stainless steel, this is a classically fresh wine focused around fruity aromas of stone fruit and citrus. The vibrant minerality and herbaceousness is appreciated, and often missed at this price point. Verdejo is a great food wine due to its higher acidity and subtle bitterness which act as a palate cleanser. Try this wine with fish tacos, lime chicken and carnitas.


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Miguel Arroyo Izquierdo Mus Lias 2019

Rueda, Spain

$30


This wine is 100% Verdejo, organically farmed, 25% barrel fermented, and aged in a mixed format of stainless steel and French oak of all sizes depending on the block the grapes came from. Also a fresh and fruit forward rendition of Verdejo, accented nicely by the delicate French oak presence, allowing it to hold up to creamier butter based dishes like scallops and pastas in addition to fresher dishes like fish tacos, lime chicken and carnitas.


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Miguel Arroyo Izquierdo Mus Fermentado en Barrica 2017, Rueda, Spain

$63.53


This is 100% Verdejo, organically farmed, 100% barrel fermented in a mixed format of stainless steel and French oak of all sizes depending on the block the grapes came from, and aged on lees for 11 months before bottling. This wine is certainly unique. It is an elegant and complex Verdejo with aromas of stone fruit and flinty minerals. The lees contact through aging adds rich secondary flavors and textures to this profoundly structured wine. Drink this wine with carnitas and pork tacos, roasted chicken and buttery dishes.


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