The village of a thousand wine cellars
In partnership with Bodegas Ocellum Durii
By Frederic Elies (edited by Adrian Carlo Velasco)
Situated in the heart of the Arribes del Duero Natural Park in Zamora, Spain – overlooking the Portuguese border – Fermoselle is a picturesque village that, beyond its lovely medieval streets and the scenic landscapes surrounding it, offers visitors much more than meets the eye: From the wine produced in its ancient underground wine cellars carved in stone to the preservation of its culture and history, the village has made sustainability into a way of life.
A hidden treasure trove in the depths of Spain
As a foreigner from the big city, who recently settled in Spain, I had always felt a lot of curiosity for the experience of the Spanish “pueblo”, that village where your family has roots and where you spend your vacations and escape from the urban jungle, summer heat and pollution. So when the opportunity arose to spend a weekend (before the pandemic happened) in a typical village famous for its wine cellars and local produce, I was thrilled. We at Nomads Global Studios had the honor of discovering Fermoselle through our partner and homegrown cellar, Bodegas Ocellum Durii.
Fermoselle fit the bill perfectly. It's a place packed with history (Due to its strategic location, it has been the site of Roman, Visigoth and Moorish settlements), medieval architecture, breathtaking views of Arribes del Duero, one of Europe's biggest natural parks, and of its gorgeous rivers – the Duero and the Tormes.
But, most of all, I was drawn to the beating heart of the village – its renowned vineyards and wine cellars. More than water, indeed, wine runs through Fermoselle's veins.
A thousand wine cellars
There's the Fermoselle that you can see: enchanting narrow streets and alleyways lined with old stone houses in rocky hills. And then, there's the hidden Fermoselle – the secret subterranean town running beneath the streets like an underground labyrinth of wine cellars excavated in the rock and mysteriously connected to each other.
When walking through the steep cobbled streets and alleyways of Fermoselle, once would notice that almost every house has two doors: One leads to the interior of the house, while the other goes down to a wine cellar. Some wine cellars are abandoned, but a significant amount have been restored and have been used for local wine production since the Middle Ages.
Our first stop was the wine cellar “la Bodega de la Peña de el Pulijón”, owned by the cultural association “El Pulijón”, which dedicates itself to preserving and promoting the cultural heritage of the village. Even though it's not actually used for wine production, this is one of the most representative of Fermoselle. El Pulijón features the typical arches made of huge granite blocks that support the whole structure, reminiscent of ancient Roman architecture. Through a combination of consistent temperatures and high-humidity levels all year round, these cellars are ideal for barrel aging that winemaking requires.
Now that our curiosity was piqued, we were ready to head off to where it all starts: the vineyards.
From soil to bottle: Ocellum Durii organic wines
Fermoselle boasts of numerous olive groves and vineyards, dotted on the slopes, leading down to the Douro River (Río Duero). A combination of climatic factors and a fertile granitic soil with quartz pebbles makes this land ideally suited to growing high-quality varieties of grapes – the most famous of which, Juan García, is well-known for its unique aroma.
Bodegas Ocellum Durii, one of Fermoselle's homegrown wine cellars, uses grapes from the rich soil of vineyards situated between 400 and 800 meters in altitude. Its founder and oenologist, Benigno Garrido, welcomed us to this little piece of heaven on earth.
According to Benigno, this wine cellar, excavated in granite rock and dating from the early 18th century, maintains a temperature of around 15 degrees Celsius and 90-percent humidity all year round. It's the perfect environment for the production of Ocellum Durii's unique organic wines, made according to the principles of organic farming and all bearing the denomination of origin “Arribes”.
Through this organic wine tour*, we discovered “Contado de Fermosel”, the cellar's star product and its incomparably rich taste and texture – thanks to its five red grape varieties (Juan García, Tempranillo, Mencia, Rufete and Bruñal). But most of all, we fell in love with the organic wine “Limite Natural”, the firstborn of “Entrelimites”, a collection of organic wines made from different denominations of origins from regions surrounding the Río Duero.
“Limite Natural” is the perfect embodiment of Bodegas Ocellum Durii's philosophy: Respecting the environment and the traditions of winemaking, through a sustainable elaboration process that limits the use of polluting chemicals and excludes added sulfur or any other additives.
While travelers can't visit Fermoselle yet, you can savor the flavors of its vineyards and cellars by ordering organic wines from Bodegas Ocellum Durii online. You can reach out to them via firstname.lastname@example.org or through Instagram.
We look forward to the day when we see each other in the village of a thousand wine cellars.
*As of writing, traveling to the community of Castile and León in Spain (where Fermoselle, Zamora is located) is still prohibited to contain the spread of coronavirus. Contact your embassy in Spain or your country's ministry of tourism or foreign affairs to get official travel information before planning any trip.
Photos by A. Carlo Velasco and María Emilia Stael Apolo
Video produced by The Nomads Media
Special thanks to Benigno Garrido, Citania Garrido and Edmundo Ramos