Consistency and perseverance seem like two qualities burned into the mind of the Ruiz family. The patriarch, Jose Maria, did not stop until his legendary Segovian roast suckling pigs -obligatory stop in the city of the aqueduct- they had a wine to match with which to accompany them.
Under that tenacity was born Payment of Carraovejas, a winery that has helped to put the name of Ribera del Duero in the world, and that in this little corner of Peñafiel continues to write pages of glory through the tempranillo.
A record that takes over – although José María is not disconnected – in Pedro Ruiz Aragoneses, his son, who has been weaving wickers beyond this Valladolid stronghold and has woven, with the paternal collusion, a network of wineries that reaches Rueda, Ribeiro, Madrid, and also the parcel wines within the limits of the Duero .
Under that resolution, it was clear that the idea that Pago de Carraovejas should go beyond the vineyard and the winery. This is how Alma Carraovejas arises, the umbrella that covers all these adventures, and from which also emerges Ambivium, the Michelin star with which Peñafiel seduces the world.
There is no shortage of interpreters for this orchestra that discovers the Ribera to the world, which opens from its windows to the Carraovejas farm, the germ of this adventure that began in the 80s, and that with Ambivium puts a point (and followed) in the way that the Ruiz they conceive oenology and gastronomy.
No expense has been spared and the proof is in the all-star that makes up his kitchen and his living room (one of the best in Spain), where names like that of Christopher Munoz -at the controls of the stove-; David Robledo, historic SantCeloni, acts as manager, and Manuel Gimeno in the room address.
The ballet of wine well understood
Each Ambivium service washes around 1,500 glasses of wine in about 70 different ways (yes, you read that correctly, more than 70 different shapes), many of which have been designed directly by the restaurant team.
With this cover letter, Ambivium shows that it is not a restaurant with a winery, but rather a winery with a restaurant -but what a restaurant-. More than 4,000 references in the wine list and more than 30 wines in the pairing of the tasting menu are the presentation letter of an oenological odyssey where it is surprising not to be harmed.
Criterion and care in the choice, half glasses and a proposal that allows pairing each dish serve to understand that wine is the common thread here. In our case, guided through most of the references that the house works with.
Names such as Ossian, Viña Mein, Emilio Rojo, the new Milsetentayseis (a newly minted Ribera) or the recent acquisition of the Madrid-based Bodega Marañones mark a path that has a harmonic execution, worth seeing, that not even in the best theaters would it come so well paced.
So much ride, ride so much
With the intention that the territory is reflected in the kitchen, Ambivium (means crossroads in Latin) is entrusted to the kitchen of Cristóbal Muñoz, from Almeria by birth but with the ability to have found the meaning of what Castilla offers in its kitchen.
He has been able to correctly interpret Castilian classics such as pickles, game, spoon dishes and the humility of an area full of shepherds and vineyards with care, using a large team -with a lot of international accent- that make Ambivium a more than obligatory stop and that, unlike other restaurants with a star, the feeling of heaviness does not exist after the meal (despite having more than 20 different bites and another twenty wines).
The wine, on behalf of Diego Gonzalez (chief sommelier), thus binds a kitchen that does not shy away from water and the garden, two pillars that Cristóbal Muñoz has raised with ingredients as classic from the area as trout or crayfish.
In this way, he counts on a dignification of legumes, like the one he does with lentils and beef gizzard, or with the clarity that addresses a cana soup that in past times served as sustenance for shepherds and that now sneaks in a Michelin star.
Everything flows, like wine, where you can rock the diner with the impressive references that Alma Carraovejas has been collecting. Historical vintages of some classics such as Cuesta de Las Liebres or El Anejón come to light, in a setting that does not live only in Ribera.
Ossian and Capitel (banners of the house in Rueda), Viña Mein’s new adventure (Ribeiro’s flag, in reds and whites), the irruption of Milsetentayseis and a couple of nods to the importer that the Ruiz family have precious time at Ambivium.
Logically It is not a restaurant for teetotalers, nor for those who shy away from pairing, because here the calibrated scale puts solid and liquid on the same pedestal that the Michelin Guide has not taken long to value and that, although it is a unique experience and for specific moments, reconciles the diner with haute cuisine, the dining room and the sommelier in the same space.
What to ask for: Ambivium is a restaurant for wine lovers and although the long tasting menu with pairing is expensive (€ 290), it is the best option if one does not intend to look at the pocketbook.
Where: Camino de Carraovejas s / n, 47300 Peñafiel, Valladolid.
Half price: Tasting menus from € 120 (without wine) to € 290 (long menu with pairing).
Bookings: 648 46 67 07 and on its website.
Schedules: meals from Wednesday to Sunday. Dinners only Saturday and Sunday.
Images | Jaime de las Heras / Ambivium Restaurant (opening)
Directly to the Palate | The art of tasting, pairing and preserving a good Ribera del Duero: a practical guide
Directly to the Palate | These are the 19 new restaurants with a star from the Michelin Guide 2021: what they are like, where they are, how much they cost