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Bodegas Hermanos Peciña is one of our preferred wine estates in the gorgeous region of La Rioja, in Northern Spain.

We love this winery  for its stellar wines, the great hospitality and exuberance of the hosts. We had the chance to chat to winemaker  Pedro Peciña Gil, and thought you might enjoy reading the interview.

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Pedro Peciña Gil

Here goes>

CELLAR TOURS- When did you become passionate about wine?

PEDRO- I remember visiting the vineyards with my father when I was 5-6 years old right before  the harvest time. I was very young, but I felt something special at that moment, and from then I decided that in the future I would like to produce grapes myself.

Et.PECINA

CELLAR TOURS-When did you join the family business and how long has your family been involved in wine?

PEDRO- Today I´m 35 years old, and in 1992,when I was 14, I started helping my father elaborating our first bottling. I remember it was difficult, because it was our first year to produce wine between my father and me… it was very funny!!!

CELLAR TOURS- Did you study winemaking in Rioja or elsewhere and have you worked in other regions/countries? If so, how did the experience shape you?

PEDRO-I studied  enology at the University of La Rioja in Logroño, but in my opinion  the best wine / enology university is the real practice in growing grapes and making wine with my father´s help since I was a child. I have experience in helping other wineries in Rioja too; also I did a harvest in Messina Hoff Winery, one of the most important wineries in Texas USA. It was a very funny experience, all was different, grapes, winery, work philosophy, the language, the people.. very interesting experience in which I learned a lot.

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CELLAR TOURS-How would you describe the winemaking philosophy at Bodegas Hermanos Peciña ? Are your wines traditional, modern, etc etc?

PEDRO-The first lesson that I learned from my father was ” to make a good wine you only need to follow 3 rules: TO BE CLEAN, TO BE CLEAN AND TO BE CLEAN”. Of course you also need  good grapes, choose the perfect moment of harvesting …Our wines are very classic, due to we follow making our wines as people did them 100 years ago, as very natural as possible, no using any artificial yeast, (only wild yeast from San Vicente de la Sonsierra) or any Enzymas, any tannins, any poliphenols.. we never add nothing, our wines are completely natural. 3

CELLAR TOURS-What distinguishes your estate to other wineries in the area?

PEDRO-The main difference is that our wines are like the wines of100 years ago, completely natural, and their unique flavour is wine… OUR WINES TASTE LIKE WINE!!! We never filter the wines, we never fine the wines, and we never do any cold stabilization of the wines; so, to get stabilized wines we keep them  a lot of time in barrel, and every 6 months we make rackings by means of the traditional technique from barrel to barrel by gravity, cleaning the wines in a natural way.

CELLAR TOURS- Have you seen many changes in winemaking and viticulture in La Rioja in recent years, in which way?

PEDRO-I think Rioja has changed a lot in the past 10 years, many wineries have lost the identity of Rioja, and they try to make wines with more color, more complex, more full-bodied… in a word,Parker style wines.. and this is not Rioja. They are using new barrels, French barrels, making very long macerations… all of that to get hard wines.

CELLAR TOURS-What are your most important established markets and which new markets are you trying to break into, China for example?

PEDRO-We are working very good in all North America ( Mexico, USA and Canada), because they like the authentic classic Rioja, and in Central Europe (Czech Republic, Poland…), countries that are discovering the traditional Rioja. We started selling in Chine a couple years ago, but only in high level markets, where high quality wines have recognition.

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CELLAR TOURS-Have you experienced any challenges with climate change and global warming?

PEDRO-Yes, in my experienced 20 years, I have noticed how the harvest start earlier; the maturation of the grapes is earlier than some years ago, ( although 2013 harvest has been a little bit later)… and it´s a fact that 30 years ago it snowed 4-5 times every winter, and that´s very unusual nowadays.

CELLAR TOURS-Are you experimenting with any new wines, and any exciting projects on the horizon?

PEDRO-We love the Tempranillo grape and for making white wines, we strongly believe in the potential of the Viura. I think it´s  not good for the Rioja the introduction of foreign white varieties.

CELLAR TOURS-Do you find the strict rules put in place by the Consejo Regulador to be helpful or a hindrance?

PEDRO-I think these rules even need to be more strict, because in Rioja you can find low quality wines that have the warranty of Rioja. And that´s not good for the image of the Rioja.

CELLAR TOURS- For guests coming to visit you in Rioja, do you have any favorite restaurants in the area, any secret gems?

PEDRO-My favourite luxury place is Restaurante Alameda in Fuenmayor, only using fresh products, with a magnificent grill.  Restaurante Jose Mari, in Rivas de Tereso and 4 km far from our bodega, is the perfect place to taste traditional dishes from Rioja: Patatas con Chorizo, chuletillas al sarmiento, bacalao a la riojana…, And with very reasonable prices!!!

CELLAR TOURS-Which wine should we lay down and save for a special occasion?

PEDRO-I think our most special wine is our Pciña Reserva Seleccion Harvest 2001: soft, harmonious, delicate wine…. You love it from the first moment, but it´s changing every minute at the glass, remembering nuances of chocolate, coffee…. wonderful!!!!!

Pedro Peciña Senior

Pedro Peciña Senior

For more information on this outstanding winery, contact Mikel Martínez at BODEGAS HERMANOS PECIÑA, Carretera Vitoria Km.47-26338 San Vicente de la Sonsierra (La Rioja)
Tel +34-941 334 366  -  Fax +34 941 334 180   [email protected]  https://es-es.facebook.com/BodegaPecina

Top Ten Rioja Wines for Collectors

Posted by gen On October - 11 - 2013

Top La Rioja Wines for Collectors

Although the renowned Rioja region has increasingly had to fight off competition from the likes of Ribera Del Duero and Priorat, it is still justly considered Spain’s most important and finest producer of premium red wines. Over a decade of serious investment and a transformation of the established winemaking styles has left region with a bewildering array of options for the wine-lover – today, Rioja literally has it all! International fame, beautiful countryside full of hill topped medieval hamlets, rising prices and both traditional and new wave wine styles. Many winemakers have rejected the old mantra of long periods of ageing in American oak barrels and now use new French oak and concentrated, ripe fruit to great effect. Winemakers are also increasingly abandoning the classic Crianza, Reserva and Gran Reserva classification system and instead flout the appellation rules to make the wines they want to make!

rioja pan 1

In recent years, a combination of high scores from Robert Parker and the minute volumes produced by these new wave ‘cult’ Rioja wineries has ensured that prices remain buoyant. Top Riojas now present a very attractive investment for wine collectors, particularly the less conservative collectors who can see beyond the bright lights of Bordeaux and Burgundy. The best wines are made to last, for decades in fact and whether you buy for pleasure or to make a good return, premium Rioja is definitely a safe bet.

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Here are our favorite top 10 Rioja wines to recommend for collectors:

Artadi: Viña el Pisón

The Cosecheros Alaveses winery, under the brand name Artadi is today producing outstanding, modern style Riojas: taut, powerful and built to last! Their top wine, the famous Viña el Pisón is made from just 2.4 hectares of unique vineyards cultivated bio-dynamically. It needs at least 10 years cellaring after release and owner Juan Carlos Lopez De Lacalle is confident that his top wines will last at least 30-40 years.  The winery was founded in 1985 as a cooperative, but de Lacalle turned it into a private business in 1992. After Robert Parker awarded the El Pisón 100 points in 2004, the wine’s asking price soared and is today highly sought after. Volumes are low so expect to pay, over $250 a bottle usually.

artadi vina pison

Contador

Contador is a new kid on the block, having being released as recently as 1996. Owner Benjamin Romeo produced the now legendary 96 in a centuries-old cave beneath the castle of San Vicente de la Sonierra. He has since turned his parent’s garage into a tiny winery and his 2004 and 2005 vintages were awarded 100 points by Parker, sending the wine’s reputation (and price) into the stratosphere. However, perfectionist Romeo refused to produce a vintage in 2006, sighting indifferent fruit as the reason which superseded any commercial concerns. Truly, this is a man who cares about quality, which clearly shows in his powerful, expressive and totally exquisite Rioja. Expect to pay around $320.

contador benjamin romeo

Contino: Vina del Olivo

Respected wine maker Jesus Madrazo continues to take Contino to new heights, his single vineyard star wine, the Vina del Olivo, has won awards far and wide for its velvety, supple texture and intense length and depth of flavor. This forward thinking property is part owned by the wine giant CVNE, although Jesus is left to his own devices when it comes to the wines! The bodega (winery) has 45 ha of vineyards planted around a 17th century manor. The wine is typically dominated by Tempranillo and the winemaking methods are modern rather than traditional, French oak taking precedence over American. The resulting wine is stunning, balanced and complex, typically retailing for about $100.

contino 0livo

Finca Allende: Aurus

One of the very best producers in Rioja, mainly sourcing fruit from their own vineyards in La Rioja Alta. Owner Miguel-Angel de Gregorio is a passionate advocate of using New French oak and modern winemaking methods, the resulting wines are rich, concentrated but also structured and will last for decades after release. His top wine Aurus is sumptuous, produced from 60-year old vines the wine is unfiltered and vinified with whole bunches to the highest standard, with a lengthy maceration adding weight, depth and a supple texture. A complex, impressive wine that retails for about $180.

allende

La Rioja Alta: Gran Reserva 904

Bodegas La Rioja Alta are traditionalists in a sea of ever-increasing new wave wineries wishing to abandon Rioja’s historic wine style and winemaking methods. Their top Gran Reserva wine, the 904 is a monument to how sublime traditional Rioja can be: aged for six years in America oak and four in bottle, this fantastic wine is only produced in the best vintages. A blend of 85 percent Tempranillo, plus Mazuelo and Viura it has a complex, deep aroma and classically a bright, brick-red color. Although approachable on release, old vintages of this venerable wine are highly sought-after, making it a great value investment option for the savvy collector. As volumes are not low, a bottle can be obtained for as little as $54.

904

Marques de Murrieta: Castillo d’Ygay Gran Reserva Especial

One of Rioja’s oldest Bodegas, Marques de Murrieta was established in 1852 by the great pioneer Luciano de Murrieta who was the first person to export Spanish wine in barrels. They are still staunch traditionalists, ageing the wines for long periods and at one time, the wines were bottled immediately from the barrel before shipping. And despite their concession to modernity with the fruit-driven Dalmau, their star turn remains the incredible Castillo d’Ygay Gran Reserva Especial, only made in exceptional years. This expensive and sought after wine is made from 70% Tempranillo, 12 per cent Garnacha, 13 percent Mazuelo and 5 per cent Graciano. At its best, the wine is splendidly rich, complex and of a different order. A true Rioja icon, available for a mere $102.

murrieta ygay

Marques de Riscal: Baron de Chirel

Rioja’s oldest Bodega, Marques de Riscal was founded in 1860 by Don Camilo Hurtado de Amezaga and was the first to introduce the Bordeaux vinification system. But despite their long heritage of producing classical Riojan wines, Marques de Riscal were also one of the first wineries to plant Cabernet Sauvignon in Rioja and blend it into their superstar wine – Baron de Chirel. Made with 50 percent Tempranillo and Cabernet, it is still today one of the region’s finest and long-lived wines: rich but structured and firm in its youth. It demands at least 5 to7 years’ bottle release to be enjoyed at its best. Prices, however, have remained reasonable considering the quality on offer, a bottle can be obtained for $80.

riscal chirel

Muga: Aro

This long established, classical name in Haro continues to produce Rioja’s most aromatic and balanced reds. Muga was founded in 1932 and in 1972 moved to a new bodega near the railway station in Haro. It is a small family run winery making some excellent, traditional Riojas, however, their approach is wisely multifaceted; a fiercely traditional bodega has also embraced modernity with its thoroughly modern-style Aro Rioja, a wine of great depth, elegance and power. A blend 60 year old Tempranillo and Graciano, the wine is aged for 18 months in new French oak. The result is an extremely impressive new wave Rioja, loaded with vibrant blackberry fruit and velvety tannin. If you have the patience, give this beauty at least 5 years bottle age. Available from $180, this should be on any collectors shopping list!

muga ar

Roda: Cirsion

An impressive, modern bodega near the railway station quarter in Haro has been producing serious Reserva reds from low yielding Tempranillo for over a decade now. The property was established in 1986 but much of the vineyard is over 40 years old. This shows in the pedigree of the Roda I Reserva: powerful and concentrated but with the characteristic freshness and supple texture of Tempranillo. However, it is the super-cuvee Cirision that causes the most excitement amongst collectors and connoisseurs. It is undoubtedly one of the very best new style Riojas – rich, structured and cedary, a wine of real finesse and breeding. Unsurprisingly, prices are high so expect to pay around $230 for a bottle.

roda cirs

 Remirez de Ganuza: Trasnocho

Top-quality Rioja bodega which was established by Fernando Remirez de Ganuza as recently as 1989. Today, they work with over 80 hectares of vines in the Rioja Alavesa sub-zone, producing three excellent reds and one super-cuvee – Trasnocho – of real class and destination. It is the epitome of modern, supercharged Rioja: opulent, exotic, massively extracted but balanced too. Yours for the princely sum of $150 a bottle.

ganuza trasnocho

Top 5 Spanish Wines to say Adios to summer

Posted by gen On September - 4 - 2013

Great wines from Spain to bid farewell to the summer.

By Mary O’Connor, Planeta Vino

de Nit cava copa

The last days of summer are just behind us, and we need some nice wines to see us through the tricky transition into autumn.  It’s too early for big Spanish reds, but we are a little tired of drinking so many summery whites, so what Spanish wines will soothe us now?

Some of my favorite Spanish wines are great at this time of the year:  rosados and cavas.  These are very versatile wines; they go with lots of everyday food, and especially the lighter foods we still eat at this time of the year.  The beginning of fall is also a nice time for some lighter, mineral red varieties, maybe a nice Mencía?

So check out my five favorite Spanish wines to help you say adios to summer and ease your transition into fall.

5.  Let’s kick it off with a cava.  There should be a rule that we all have to drink sparkling wine at least once a week!  It just makes you happier!
Cava has developed an unfortunate reputation as a cheap and cheerful alternative to champagne.  It can be that, but it can also be so much more.  There are many beautiful wines that do the style proud.
Gramona is one of Cava’s top houses and makes cavas that can compete with top champagnes in blind tastings.  But it’s one of their entry-level cavas that I love to always have on hand for my bubbly fix.

Gramona Brut Imperial Gran Reserva Cava 2007:  This cava is elegant and very wine-like, with a creamy texture and great length.  It’s crisp acidity and fine, discrete bubbles balance all that richness out perfectly.
It’s great with fish dishes, many tapas and typical Spanish fried foods, and also a surprising number of cheeses.   It’s great value for a top-flight sparkling wine, at about 15 euros in Spain and 25 dollars in the US.

4.  Next up is a classic Navarra RosadoNavarra is most known for its rosé or rosado wines even though it also makes amazing whites and reds as well.  Also due to its relative obscurity in the shadow of superstar neighbor Rioja, you can find some amazing values.

Artazuri Preto

Atazuri Garnacha Rosado 2012:  Strawberry and red fruit aromas in the nose while the mouth feels fresh and crisp.  Good Spanish rosados are very fruity but dry, leaving a nice clean finish in your mouth.  They combine some of the best elements of a red wine and a white wine.  The Artazuri is a perfect, refreshing Navarra Rosado.
These wines are ideal with the grilled fish and seafood that are so much a part of summer life in Spain.  They are also the wines of choice to match with most paellas and rice dishes.  Amazing value at 5 euros in Spain and less than 10$ in the US.

3.  Now for our token red!  Mencía is a top-notch grape variety from northwestern Spain.  Styles can vary, but the grape variety can make some lighter, floral, mineral reds that are perfect for this time of year.   It also often has a smoky quality, which can make it a great wine for those last summer barbecues. I’ve chosen a simple, but stellar wine from superstar winemaker Alvaro Palacios, who makes some memorable Mencías in the Bierzo region.

Petalos del Bierzo 2010

Pétalos del Bierzo 2011:  This wine has been a consistent darling of the critics even though it is just the baby in an impressive portfolio of Mencía wines from Palacios.   It’s a very elegant wine and showcases the intense fruit and minerality of the Mencía grape.
This wine is super food-friendly and matches with every day food choices.  It goes well with egg dishes, roasted vegetables, and lighter meats and poultry.  It remains really good value at about 15 euros in Spain and between 15-20$ in the US.

2.  Another rosado, but this one is so dark, you could mistake it for a light red.  It is made by one of Spain’s most exciting winemakers, Gregory Perez, and is the most intriguing rosé wine I’ve had in a long time.  He makes many exciting wines so look for anything from him and if you live in the US, look for anything from his importer, José Pastor.
The wine is from the relatively obscure region of Tierras de León and it’s made from the Prieto Picudo grape variety.  This grape variety has lots of potential, but there are still many rustic wines out there.

Rosado Preto 2011:  This blew the competition away recently at a rosé tasting I attended.  So aromatic in the nose, with violets and black pepper notes, then so bold and fresh in the mouth.  Very complex for a wine in this category, and one of the few Spanish rosados that can age.   It has all the flavor intensity of a red wine with the crunchy acidity of a white wine…beautiful!
Super versatile food matcher…it can match with chicken and pork dishes, even grilled fish.  It has a smoky, savory element that will go well with most grilled foods.  About 10 euros in Spain and 15$ in the US. Love it!

1.  My top wine to stave off summer’s-end depression?  Both an attractive rosado and an elegant cava, this is a wine I could enjoy everyday!  It is happiness in a bottle…and at a great price!
Rosado cava is a trendy and fast improving category, but it’s still a bit of a minefield.  Raventós i Blanc is a top producer that recently decided to leave the cava appellation due to perceived quality and image issues.  You can always count on consistency from their bottles.

Raventós i Blanc de Nit Brut 2010 Cava:  I always look for excuses to break out a bottle of this wine.  It’s easy to polish off by itself, but it also matches with almost any meal!  It has all the elegance of a great white cava with some the added richness and complexity of red fruit aromas from its rosado side.
It goes with cheeses and lighter fare like any cava, but as a rosado cava it can also handle heartier fare such as rice dishes, grilled seafood, and salads.  Truly great value in sparkling wine at 13 euros in Spain and about 20$ in the US.  de Nit cava

 

It´s Friday and you are day dreaming about where do take your next vacation… here are some images of one of our favorite regions on earth, La Rioja, to inspire you :)

Enjoy these shots of Rioja´s vineyards, medieval villages, rivers and mountains…

Rioja wine countryRioja wine countryRioja wine countryRioja wine countryRioja wine countryRioja wine countryRioja wine countryRioja wine countryRioja wine countryRioja wine countryRioja wine countryRioja wine countryRioja wine country

Find out more!

Rioja wine region

Rioja wineries

Rioja wine tours

Kosher wineries in Spain- Spanish wines for Hannukkah

Posted by gen On October - 23 - 2009

Jewish Quarter Cordoba

With Jewish holidays around the corner, many of you will already be planning the food and wine. If you are sick of the same old wines, why not look further afield?

Spain, still home to a population of Sephardic Jews (particularly in Catalunya), has a a growing number of Kosher wines available, here is a list of some of the better ones to pick up:

1. Flor de Primavera (Capçanes) from Montsant. This was the first kosher wine sold commercially in Spain and is considered indeed to be one of the finest kosher wines in the world. Info on winery here.

Kosher wine Spain

2. Alate Kosher from Navarra. Info on winery here.

Kosher wine Spain

3.Tikvah (Tagonius) from Madrid. Info on the estate here.

Kosher wine

4. Ramon Cardova from Rioja. Recommended by the Chicago Tribune in a Kosher wine feature. Info on the wine here.

Kosher wine Spain

5. And probably the most famous Kosher wine company in Spain must be Elvi Wines, Spanish Jewish owners, making delicious kosher wines all over the peninsula including the regions of Priorat,  Rioja, Utiel-Requena, Ribera del Júcar, and Cava. Main brands include Makor, 770, and Adar.

Kosher wines Spain

Check out the Kosher Wine Society’s tips in Spain a Luxury Mercedes chauffeured wine tours can be organized to kosher estates in Spain as part of a Jewish Heritage tour with Cellar Tours.

Kosher Wines

Wine Tasting Site Inspection in La Rioja

Posted by gen On April - 18 - 2009

Wine Tasting Site Inspection in La Rioja

We spent another couple days after the conference visiting wineries, some like Finca Valpiedra with whom we have been working for years, and other new ones like the spectacular Baigorri. We had a GREAT time! Here are the notes on our visits:

Marqués de Vargas

Marques de Vargas wine estate Marques de Vargas wine estate

Located just outside Logroño next to the ultra prestigious Marqués de Murrieta, Eva is the polite host at this regal estate. The winery is uniquely a “Chateau” style and the owner is an aristocrat who also has a beautiful family residence on the estate. The winery is set up to receive VIP guests and they indeed cater to guests looking for exclusive tours. We tasted their flagship Rioja Reserva (not a tough way to start the day!) and other wines you can enjoy on private tours here include their white Pazo San Mauro albariño (made in their sister estate in Galicia) and rich Conde de San Cristóbal, made in the Ribera del Duero wine region. In spring and summer, the white wine can be taken as an aperitif overlooking their picturesque vineyards and then reds will follow in the professional tasting room. Delicious wine and an elegant place, loved it.

Marques de Vargas wine estate Marques de Vargas wine estate

More info on the Marqués de Vargas wine estate here.

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Baigorri

Baigorri wine estate Rioja Baigorri wine estate Rioja

One of Rioja´s newest and most innovative wineries, Baigorri is located just outside of the darling medieval hamlet of Samaniego (where cult winery Remirez de Ganuza´s estate is). The winery´s main attraction (apart from the wines of course) is its giant glass “box” which is perched on a platform and offers dramatic panoramic views over the vineyard-covered valleys on all sides.This estate offers a nice contemporary contrast to the older, historic cellars. The staff are young, competent and friendly and the wines were quite good. Geni gave us a great tour!

We dined at their beautiful restaurant overlooking the vineyards (other views in the restaurant look over the hundreds of oak barriques below). We tried the tasting menu pared with the entire line of wines (we were not driving!) and had the following outstanding lunch:

Amuse Bouches: Paté a la trufa natural (pate made with truffle) and Anchoa con pimiento del cristal (sauteed anchovy accompanied by “crystallized” red piquillo pepper), Croquetas caseras (homemade croquettes which were UNBELIEVABLE) and Salmón cruijiente al limón (crunch salmon a la lemon)- these were paired with the Baigorri fermentado en barrica (French barrel fermented Viura)

Appetizer/Starter: Alubias del pais con morcilla (in the photo below, this is a simple and delicious country dish made with local beans, blood pudding and tangy Guindilla peppers), paired with the Baigorri Crianza (juicy red, loved it)

Entre/ Main Course: Carillera de Ibérico al maceración Carbónica con hongos (slow cooked Iberian pork jowl cooked in young wine and mushrooms- paired with the Baigorri Garaje (Garage wine, their top wine, very good) and we also tasted their Reserva wine (actually preferred the Crianza to the reserva, but Garaje was favorite of them all).

Dessert- Cremoso de yema con yogurt, frutos rojos y helado crujiente- too many calories to describe, lovely :)

Baigorri restaurantBaigorri restaurant

More info on the Baigorri wine estate here.

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Finca Valpiedra

Finca Valpiedra Wine Estate Finca Valpiedra Wine Estate

The Finca Valpiedra has long been one of our favorite partners in La Rioja. This estate has it all- fabulous wines, stunning location overlooking the river and unspoiled vineyards in all directions, professional tasting room with million dollar views- and now they have Arancha. One of the most dynamic wine tourism professionals we have met in a long time in Spain, she is passionate about her job and about the estate´s wines. This is always fantastic for us to see, and we spent the late afternoon tasting Finca Valpiedrás finest wines including a vertical tasting of different Valpiedra vintages, 2 vintages of their 2nd brand (which we are crazy about) Cantos and various wines from their sister winery Finca Antigua (located in La Mancha) such as the simple but aromatic 100% blanco (made with Viura that spends 5 months on its lees), a delicious Moscatel and their cult (pricey) Clavis wine. We have some new, fun ideas for our tours here that will be very, very special….

Finca Valpiedra Wine Estate Finca Valpiedra Wine Estate

More info on the Finca Valpiedra wine estate here.

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Ontañon

Ontañon winery, LogroñoOntañon winery, Logroño

Don´t let the industrial location of this FABULOUS winery put you off. When you first arrive to Ontañon, you are not sure if you are arriving to a winery or a car dealership as indeed the previous life of this winery was a factory and the unattractive area outside completely hides the gem inside. Once you enter you literally enter another world. The infectious enthusiasm and charm of guide Jesus will win you over immediately and the interior is an alluring combination of medieval museum/ antiquities gallery adorned with wine barrels and bottles. We have worked with Ontañon for a few years and the quality of their tours has gone from strength to strength. On this particular morning, after a stroll through the cellar we tasted the Gran Reserva with Jesus, as well as their dessert wine and some high end olive oils they are now making. The winery (uniquely for the region) has a great shop with plenty of wine paraphenelia on offer, such as their own made wine chocolates, and wine spa products from the Nueva Antigua product line, made in Logroño. We love Ontañon and have some new ideas for this year such as Jazz and Wine….

Ontañon winery, LogroñoOntañon winery, Logroño

More info on the Ontañon wine estate here.

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Castillo de Cuzcurrita

Castillo Cuzcurrita wine estate in la Rioja Castillo Cuzcurrita wine estate in la Rioja

Not many wineries can boast they have an actual castle, and the tiny medieval nucleus of this wine estate and hamlet is quite special. The estate is precious with manicured vineyards, gardens, a historic castle and views over a tiny, flowing stream. And the wines are something else! We were hosted by the sales director and wine tourism manager and spent Sunday morning sipping their Rioja Reserva in a stone room of the castle. In nice weather, tastings can be organized outside in their pretty patio or even within the vineyard under a giant oak tree. This estate is in the very early stages of opening up for exclusive tours and we are excited to be working with them this year, adding them to our portfolio of partners. Fun fact- their wine maker is the super famous flying winemaker Ana Martin (of Itsas Mendi in Basque Country, Guitian in Valdeorras and Traslanzas in Cigales).

Castillo Cuzcurrita Estate Castillo Cuzcurrita Estate

More info on the Castillo de Cuzcurrita wine estate here.

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Want to visit La Rioja? Here is some information on the Rioja wine region as well as a list of wineries, some of which open to the general public.  You can either sign up for a private and VIP chauffeured tour or you can have your hotel help you organize visits and local taxis. Don´t risk driving your own car if you will be tasting, as the wines here are strong (14 degrees +) and pourings generous!

Stay at the dramatic 5* Luxury Hotel designed by Frank Gehry at the Marqués de Riscal wine estate, the comfortable 4* Villa de Laguardia, or the rustic but adorable Villa de Abalos. If you speak Spanish then one of the many little country inns in Rioja could be an inexpensive and cozy choice.

While in Rioja, why not add a few days on to your vacation in the nearby Basque Country where you can eat at a number of Michelin starred restaurants, visit beautiful San Sebastian, check out the one and only Guggenheim museum in Bilbao, etc.

Rioja is simply one of our favorite wine regions in Europe and for wine lovers, we cannot suggest a trip here highly enough!

Wine Touring in la Rioja Wine Touring in la Rioja

Wine Marketing Conference Rioja, Spain

This past month we were invited to speak at the annual wine marketing conference in the wine capital of Logroño, in the gorgeous Rioja wine region. The conference lasted for 2 days and the majority of the 300 and odd guests were local wineries looking for unique ideas for wine tourism and innovative strategies to face the global wine crisis. We gave a presentation on Wine Tourism and addressed topics such a: new wine tourism experiences (both in Rioja and abroad, such as our tours in Italy and Portugal); the profile of the winery visitor (demographics); what wine tourists are looking for when they visit; examples of top class wineries offering exclusive wine tourism experiences (we chose Badia Passignano in Tuscany and Esporão in Alentejo); what wineries need to do in order to cooperate with agencies specialized in wine tours; innovative ideas for small wineries to develop wine tourism initiatives (wine picnics,4X4 tours of the vines, tastings set amid the vineyards, etc) and trends in the wine tourism sector. The audience was enthusiastic and full of young professionals working in Rioja wineries. Amazingly everyone stayed awake throughout the presentation as by the time we spoke it was about 6PM on a Friday evening with a mid day wine tasting :)

Wine Marketing Conference Rioja Spain Wine Marketing Conference Rioja Spain

Wine Tourism in Rioja

The concept of wine tours and wine tourism in Spain overall is still in the infant stages. Far from established wine country tourist destinations like Napa Valley, Tuscany, Australia or Mendoza, many Spanish wine regions still can´t get their head around wine tourism -if they want it or not, if it will be mass tourism (big coaches) or exclusive tourism and the level of cooperation between wine estates to promote their regions and sub regions as a whole has not been strategic. The buzz word these days is- potential! We have been offering wine tours in Spain since 2003 and have overcome many barriers to getting wineries interested in receiving visitors and things are improving all the time. There is still a lot of work to be done to establish Rioja as a wine destination in the minds of international travelers.  However the wineries we work with in Spain and Rioja are true professionals, making great wines and creative with the style of visits they offer.

Wine Marketing Conference Rioja Spain Wine Marketing Conference Rioja Spain

Fellow Speakers at the Wine Marketing Conference in Logroño

What an amazing panel of speakers this conference had over the course of the 2 days! These included Alice Feiring (An American wine journalist with a huge following on her blog, who talked about the influence of the press and the wine gurus. Her book “The Battle for Wine and Love: or How I Saved the World from Parkerization” is a NY Times bestseller), Anna Riera (a bubbly Catalan journalist specialized in food and wine),  the mega dynamic and supremely entertaining Saúl Mallols (one of the business managers of Lavinia), Stephen Rannekleiv (the Vice President of Rabobank International who talked about the American fine wine consumption market and how the economic crisis is affecting it) and Paolo Battegazzore (one of the heads at  Folio Fine Wine Partners in Napa who gave a fascinating and straightforward presentation about the complex and intricate world of wine importing in the USA and his recommendations for Rioja wine producers.

We also had some interesting, live video conferences with professionals around the world such as Miguel Ángel Rivas (Director of  Marinter S.A., the most prestigious wine company in México), and Federico Vázquez de Novoa (Tourism Manager in Mendoza, Argentina- the most successful wine tourism destination in South America). The caliber of speakers was extremely high and we were honored to be included on the panel.

Half way through the day, a sensorial wine tasting was organized for us, consisting of some gorgeous wines such as Numanthia (!!!). My my my, were we ever pampered, have a look at the hard day´s work:

Wine Marketing Conference Rioja Spain Wine Marketing Conference Rioja Spain

Logroño- this small working wine town hosts a series of interesting wine events throughout the year. The “Catarsis” music and wine festival has just concluded, but you can catch it again next year (various wineries like Marqués de Vargas, Juan Alcorta, Franco Españolas, Darien, Ontañon and Ijalba host classic music evenings, fabulous! Another reason to come to Logroño are the tapas on the mythical calle Laurel. The idea is you have a pincho (small dish on a plate or brochette) and a glass of wine and wander down the street popping into bars as a way of having lunch or dinner. It´s fun and while here you could visit La Casita (get the brocheta de calamares y gambas), Bar El Cid (flagship pintxo is the grilled wild mushroom), Bar Donosti (get the Boletus con jamón de reserva), Bar Entremuros (stuffed red pepper), Taberna del Laurel (patatas bravas), and La Tasca del Pato (Atlantic crab). Other lovely places to wander around here include the Iglesia de Santiago, Plaza del Mercado, Calle Portales, and El Espolón.

Read about our site inspection of Rioja wineries here.

Check out other wine marketing and wine tourism conferences in Cape Town (July 2009) and Bordeaux (November).

Top 10 Spanish Wines for 2009

Posted by gen On March - 21 - 2009

Want to add 10 Spanish collector´s wines to your cellar? Here is a summary of our ten favorite Spanish wines at the moment.

Top ten lists are all about personal taste, and this list is no different. We are fortunate enough to have the opportunity to attend regular wine industry events in Spain and to visit wineries throughout the year.

So based on tastings of over 200 Spanish wines so far this year, here is our list of personal top ten favorites that are drinking extremely well:

1. Roda I 2005, Rioja

Top Ten Wines in Spain- Roda I

2. Dolç de la Obac 2005, Priorat

Top Ten Wines in Spain- Dolç de l ´Obac

3. Astrales 2005, Ribera del Duero

Top Ten Wines in Spain- Astrales

4. Termanthia 2005, Toro

Top Ten Wines in Spain- Termanthia

5. Pazo de Señoráns Selección de añada 2003, Rias Baixas (Albariño)

Top Ten Wines in Spain- Pazo Señoráns Selección de Añada

6. Abadia Retuerta Pago Garduña 2006, Vinos de  la Tierra de Castilla y Leon

Top Ten Wines in Spain- Abadia Retuerta Pago Garduña

7. Parés Baltà Absis 2003, Penedès

Top Ten Wines in Spain- Parés Baltà Absis

8. Dominio de Tares Bembibre 2004, Bierzo

Top Ten Wines in Spain- Dominio de Tares Bambibre

9. La Viña de Andrés Romeo 2005, Rioja

Top Ten Wines in Spain- Andres Romeo

10. Sandeman Royal Esmeralda 20 year old Amontillado

Sandeman wine

Tell us all about your favorite Spanish wines! Do you have your own top ten list to share?

How to Plan a Spanish Tapas and Wine Party

Posted by gen On January - 9 - 2009

How to plan a Spanish Tapas and Wine Party- Tips for the perfect food and wine fiesta

How to plan a Spanish tapas and wine party

Spanish tapas are fun, easy to prepare, and always a crowd pleaser. Here are some ideas on how to throw your own tapas and wine party for your (appreciative) friends:

FIRST OF ALL, WHAT ARE TAPAS?-  The word “tapa” means “lid” in Spanish, and it refers to the tradition in centuries past in hot and dusty Spanish inns and bars to place a plate over the customer´s drink (usually a glass of wine), to keep out the flies. Over time, innkeepers realized that if they placed savory and salty food on the plate, the clients would drink more- and voilà, the concept of tapas was born. Today in Spain, “tapas” refers to small portions (as opposed to “raciones” which are full plate portions) of savory, Spanish cuisine. You´ll find traditional tapas all over Spain based on cheeses, olives and various meat and veg dishes as well as elaborate tapas made with all kinds of gourmet ingredients including foie gras, duck confit, and sea urchins (particularly in Madrid, San Sebastian and Barcelona). Tapas are often placed on a slice of bread or in a little vol au vent (see photo above) and these ones on bread can be called called “Tostas” or “Pintxos” (an expression used often in Basque Country).

Now, to plan your party……

THE MUSIC- start the night with some mellow Paco de Lucia and Diego el Cigala´s flamenco jazz fusion album (Lágrimas Negras), follow with the exceptionally talented Carmen Paris, and carry on with the Flamenco pop band Ketama.

Spanish tapas and wine party

THE TABLE SETTING- Spanish olive wood bowls are beautiful and very traditional; you can use them for salads, as a bread bowl, etc. Place the tapas on pretty, colorful ceramic plates. Bring out the hot tapas directly in the earthenware pottery you cooked them in. Serve the wines in typical Basque “chiquito” glasses, and bring out the paella right on the paella pan.

Spanish tapas party paella-pan

Pick tablecloths with bright colors like yellow and red, from the Spanish flag.  Decorate the room with atmospheric candles. There is a fabulous company in Madrid called “At Spain” that sells all of these products and ships all over the world, info here.

Spanish Tapas and Wine Party Spanish Tapas and Wine Party

THE WINES- Have various wine bottles open for guests to choose from. Keep the Finos, Cavas and White Wines on ice and the red wines and Amontillados at room temperature.

Finos/Manzanillas- La Gitana Manzanilla is a classic, as well as the Tio Pepe Fino, both easy to find. Serve on their own, or make a Manzanilla cocktail such as the “Rebujito”.

Spanish tapas and wine party

Cava- Spain´s classic sparkling wine, Cava, has a whole range of quality spectrums. Freixenet produces millions of bottles of cheap and cheerful cava, while upmarket cellars like Agusti Torellò make sublime cavas like “Kripta”, on a par with a fine champagne. Our favorite producers include: Torellò, Parés Baltà, and Raventos i Blanc. Codorniu, one of the main (and one of the oldest) producers also make a wonderful rosé cava, lovely in summer.

Kripta Cava

Vino Blanco- Our favorite white wines in Spain at the moment include:As Sortes(from Valdeorras, made with the trendy Godello grape), Conreria de Scala Dei´s “winter white” Les Brugueres (a 14% Garnacha blanca based, delicious weighty white), Belondrade y Lurton´s RuedaSuperior (made with the zippy Verdejo grape) and the spectacular Selección de Añada Albariño from the Pazo de Señorans estate.

Best Spanish white wine

Vino Tinto-A crime to have to only choose a few favorites, but to choose a few…. begin the tapas party with a juicy red from the Finca Loranque estate (La Mancha) accompanied by the (Bierzo) ever-popular Dominio de Tares old vines. Carry on with the (Ribera del Duero) Arzuaga Crianza and contine with the Roda Reserva (our absolute favorite Rioja at the moment). If you want to splash out on a fab red, go for the Clos de l´Obac from the chic region of Priorat.

Roda wine from Rioja

Other Sherries- We love sherries to accompany the cheeses and amontillado sherries in particular. Pick up a bottle of (dry and nutty) Amontillado from a good estate like Lustau and bring out with the cheeses. Learn more about Sherry here and discover the varied grapes of Spain here. Finally, see some top Spanish winery profiles here.

THE TAPAS- and on to the food! Some ideas for the tapas to choose:

Cheeses - Make  a Spanish cheese plate with cured Manchego, sultry Roncal, smoked Idiazabál, blue Cabrales, savory Ibores and creamy Garrotxa. If you can get your hands on a whole Torta del Casar cheese, this will probably be the party favorite! More info on Spanish Cheese.

Spanish tapas Party

Olives and nuts-some easy ideas for tapas:

- walnuts, panfried for five minutes with fresh rosemary and sea salt

- almonds, panfried (and moved constantly) with Spanish paprika (pimentón), sea salt and the smallest pinch of ground Cumin

- Spanish green (unpitted) olives marinated with garlic, olive oil, coriander seeds and fresh thyme

- Spanish black olives (unpitted) marinated with olive oil, lemon zest, cumin seeds, freshly chopped parsley

some tapas recipes here.

olives

Veggies-

- Padrón peppers (Pimientos de Padrón) grilled with olive oil and sea salt

- Spanish red piquillo peppers (they come packed in jars), served on their own on a plate

- Green asparagus wrapped in Serrano ham and roast in the oven

- Tortilla Española, the ultimate tapas party favorite

pimientos-padron

Meat based tapas-

- Small chorizo sausages slow cooked in Asturian cider in earthenware pottery in the oven

- Spanish meatballs (albondigas), recipe here.

- plenty of thinly sliced Jamón, including Serrano ham and Bellota ham

- Spanish Paella!! There are countless recipes, and it is a colorful and striking addition to your tapas party

Spanish ham

Seafood based tapas-

- Gambas al ajillo (shrimp sauteed in garlic and olive oil)

- Calamares a la Romana (breaded Calamari), recipe here.

- Marinated Boquerones (anchovies)

- Croquetas de Bacalao (cod croquettes)

boquerones

And for Dessert- cheese! also Crema Catalana, and Flan

Follow dessert with “Chupitos” (shot glasses) of chilled Galician Orujo (we love the Martin Codax orujo de hierbas) to wash it all down.

We hope your Spanish tapas fiesta is a hit, tell us how it goes!

Spanish tapas party

Any time of the year is a good time to visit the wine country when it comes to drinking nice wines! But winter can be the most challenging season to visit as vineyards are dormant and bare (not lush and verdant, as in other times of the year), and many of Europe´s wine regions are covered in overcast and bleak skies. There are a few regions however that are just fabulous to visit in winter, and here are some nice ideas for wine lovers looking for that unforgettable winter wine tasting escape:

Winter wine tastings

Alentejo, Portugal

The Alentejo is without a doubt one of our favorite wine regions in Europe. This unspoiled and breathtaking region features soft, rolling hills studded with cork trees and Moorish castles and is spotted with colonial style wine “quintas”. The scenery in Alentejo is reminiscent of the romantic savannas of “Out of Africa” and in winter, you can expect bright blue skies and invigorating cold weather. For a winter wine tasting break we suggest you use the Unesco heritage town of Évora as a base, visit a few wineries and enjoy some long leisurely wine lunches in cozy restaurants with open fireplaces.

Wineries to visit: Esporão, Monte Seis Reis, Herdade da Malhadinha are all favorites and can provide (paying) tours and tastings if you contact them beforehand to set up the appointments.

Alentejo winery consortium:Vinhos do Alentejo feature all kinds of wine region info on their website for self-drive trips (in Portuguese).

Where to stay: Our favorite hotel is definitely the romantic and luxurious Convento do Espinheiro, just outside Évora.

More Info on the Alentejo wine region

Luxury chauffeured wine weekends in Alentejo

Alentejo wine region in winterAlentejo wine region in winterAlentejo wine region in winter

Sherry Country, Spain

Jerez de la Frontera, the main wine town in the “Sherry lands” is a truly delightful little provincial capital. The benefit here is that the wineries are right in the historic center so you don´t need to drive and you can taste as many wines as you like! Most are in walking distance of each other through the pleasant center. Sherry wines are varied (finos, amontillados, palo cortados, and more) and quite strong, perfect on a sunny and cold winter´s day. The ideal winter wine weekend in Jerez would include winery tours, an excursion to beautiful Seville (one hour by train), and a lunch at La Mesa Redonda.

Wineries to visit: Sandeman (our favorite for private VIP tours), Pedro Domecq, Bodegas Tradición, Emilio Lustau, González Byass (Tio Pepe)

Sherry winery consortium: Consejo Regulador Denominacion De Origen Jerez Xerez Sherry

Where to stay: Our favorite hotel in Jerez is the Palacio de Garvey (which made it to our top ten wine hotels in Spain hotlist). The Villa Jerez is another refined little hotel, out of the center in a more residential neighborhood.

More Info on the Sherry wine region

Info on luxurious wine weekends in Seville and Jerez

Winter wine tastings

Valtellina, Italy

The ultimate winter wine escape, Valtellina offers sunny blue skies, fluffy snowy mountains in winter and phenomenal red wines made with the Chiavennasca grape (cousin of Barolo´s Nebbiolo grape). The region is alpine, near the Swiss border and the perfect winter wine weekend could include winery visits and tastings, an excursion to pretty St Moritz (on the Swiss side) and an excursion by horse-drawn sled through the snow. The cuisine is FABULOUS, real mountain food and it perfectly accompanies the rich, velvety “Sforzato” wines.

Wineries to visit: None of the wineries have regular scheduled tours, so you will need to contact them individually to request a (paying) visit and tasting. We particularly love Nino Negri, Triacca, Rainoldi and Conti Sertoli Salis.

Valtellina winery consortium: Consorzio Vini Valtellini have information on the region, wineries and travel tips.

Where to stay: There are some wonderful spa hotels, perfect in winter. We love the Bagni di Bormio, a real destination hotel with wonderful soothing spa treatments and natural springs.

More Info on the Valtellina wine region

We organize luxurious chauffeured wine tasting weekends in Valtellina, more info here.

Valtellina wine region for winter escapes Valtellina wine region for winter escapes

Vestirse de Etiqueta – Etiquetas de Vino

Posted by gen On December - 26 - 2008

Vestirse de Etiqueta, Alberto Coronado

Como en todas las actividades de la sociedad de consumo la imagen juega un papel muy importante en la venta de un producto. Vestir una botella, un perfume o unos bombones se presenta como una necesidad para competir en un mercado tan voraz y fagocitador como el nuestro.

Vestirse de etiqueta

Cuando afrontamos la compra de un artículo, sea de la índole que sea, pero desconocemos su calidad o su contenido, va a ser su envoltorio el primero que nos va a aportar información, tanto positiva como negativa y va a ser el responsable de que demos el primer paso a nuestro acercamiento definitivo a el.

Como no podía ser de otro modo, el vino y todo lo que lo contiene (etiqueta, caja o botella) también se encuentra en la pasarela del consumo y en buena medida los factores que van a influir en su adquisición van a estar determinados por su “vestimenta”.

Sin embargo, en España el sector empresarial aún no parece tenerlo claro y está, desgraciadamente muy extendida la errónea creencia de que un producto se vende por sí solo, por su gran calidad, por sus excelencias. Puede que esto ocurra, sobre todo, en los vinos con renombre y que con el paso de los años se han situado en lo más alto del escalafón. A nadie se le escapa que Vega Sicilia o Petrus (por citar tan sólo dos ejemplos) seguirán siendo lo que son y vendiendo lo que venden hagan lo que hagan con el diseño de su etiqueta. Por encima del diseño estará siempre la calidad del producto. En estos escasos ejemplos está claro que la calidad de su contenido y la trayectoria puede más que el peso de la estética.

Vestirse de etiqueta

Por otra parte, nos encontramos con otros vinos de no tanto renombre que, aun siendo el producto de excelente calidad, tienen la necesidad de transmitir al consumidor las incuestionables cualidades del mismo. Por supuesto que el asesoramiento del profesional o la información previa de que dispongamos van a ser factores determinantes a la hora de seleccionar, pero la decisión final sobre qué vino nos llevaremos a casa entre dos de similares calidad y precio vendrá condicionada por el aspecto que el envase tenga, por la información subliminal que el “envoltorio” de dicho envase nos transmita. Y es que el diseño de una etiqueta para vino nos tiene que contar lo que esa botella contiene.

Más allá, incluso de decirnos qué bodega lo elaboró y embotelló, qué uva se utilizó y de dónde proviene, nos ha de comunicar que es un vino excelente, mimado y cuidado hasta en los más finos detalles, que realmente es lo que estamos buscando, que, si lo elegimos, nuestra decisión será la correcta. Después vendrá la “hora de la verdad”. El contenido deberá confirmar nuestra elección, pero aquí ya el diseñador nada puede hacer.

Aunque no siempre las fórmulas son universales, ni todos los mensajes son captados de la misma manera por el consumidor, si que hay unas claves que ayudan a entender mejor la información que luego el producto nos va a desvelar.

ESTILO TRADICIONAL

Generalmente una etiqueta “tradicional” con motivos a plumilla de viñedos o la fachada de la bodega, o escudos heráldicos, nos van a dar la pista para descubrir un vino de corte clásico y de una buena calidad. Los vinos franceses míticos como Haut Brion, Margaux o Latour han sido ancestralmente los que han marcado la pauta de las etiquetas españolas más clásicas. Botellas con malla, pavonadas o con el escudo de armas grabado en la botella van a reforzar esta imagen de vino tradicional de alta calidad de bodegas legendarias.

Rioja sin duda acapara la mayor parte de las etiquetas históricas de corte “afrancesado”, pero que han creado una manera de mirar al vino. Etiquetas como Marqués de Riscal con su forma tan imitada o las de Castillo de Igay, Imperial o Viña Pomal son claros ejemplos de cómo se crea estilo en el vino. Ningún diseñador en su sano juicio osaría a cambiar ninguna de estas etiquetas. Un ejemplo de etiqueta a medio camino entre la modernidad y lo tradicional, es el diseño de las botellas de Marqués de Velilla o Numanthia que desde mi punto de vista, son de una realización impecable.

Vestirse de etiqueta

Jerez, debería tener mención aparte ya que prácticamente no han cambiado sus diseños desde tiempos remotos, y aunque algunos lo han hecho con más acierto como el ejemplo del Tio Pepe de González Byass o las elegantísimas etiquetas de las sacristías de Garvey, Domecq o Romate, la mayoría caen en una monotonía que no beneficia al cambio de imagen que, a mi entender, necesita la zona.

ESTILO VANGUARDISTA

Otras bodegas apuestan por etiquetas más innovadoras y vanguardistas. Generalmente suelen ser empresas con la intención de captar a un público más joven y arriesgado que apuesta por las novedades.

Sin embargo ha habido bodegas “tradicionales” que se adelantaron a su tiempo, con diseños muy novedosos para la época, como el caso de Marqués de Cáceres, que aunque hoy nos parece una etiqueta muy asumida, incluso tradicional, en su momento marcó pautas y creó una autentica escuela de imitadores. España no cuenta con un excesivo número de etiquetas vanguardistas (ser un país “histórico” pesa), si lo comparamos con California, Surafrica o Australia donde los argumentos, los complejos y los soportes son claramente diferentes y diferenciadores. Allí podemos encontrar etiquetas triangulares, realizadas a mano o botellas de colores. Son, en definitiva, otro modo de ver el diseño del vino. Aquí tenemos el ejemplo de los vinos que elabora Telmo Rodríguez como LZ, Matallana o Molino Real, Ánima negra, Raventós, Manu o la etiqueta de Santiago Ruíz realizada íntegramente a mano, son muestras de diseños atrevidos.

Enate

ETIQUETAS TIPOGRÁFICAS

Un estilo muy de moda y que a mí particularmente me agrada mucho, es el de las etiquetas donde la tipografía es la auténtica protagonista del diseño. Cuando se consigue una buena armonía en la combinación de tipos de letra, el resultado suele ser de lo más sugerente. Generalmente las bodegas que apuestan por la tipografía en sus etiquetas, la combinan con su escudo o con algún otro elemento gráfico pero sin hacer destacar más de lo debido ninguno de ellos.

La correcta aplicación de tipos de letra para confeccionar una etiqueta, aunque parece tarea fácil, requiere mucho conocimiento y experiencia. Desde la correcta jerarquización de los tamaños de letra por su importancia, hasta la combinación de tipos más “pesados” con otros más livianos. La aplicación del color es también un factor de enorme importancia formal.

Ejemplos como Summa, Dominio de Conte, Pago de los Capellanes, Pérez Pascuas, Neo, Aalto y un nutrido de buenas etiquetas ilustran perfectamente este apartado.

La zona del Priorato es un caso de aplicación tipográfica casi minimalista y, con una imagen común muy fácilmente identificable. Con fondos blancos, tamaños muy reducidos para lo que se suele ver y con el mínimo grado de información que exige la normativa.

ARTE EN EL VINO

Un cuarto gran grupo, que abunda cada vez más en la manera de acometer una etiqueta de altura, es apostar por pintores modernos que realicen obras en exclusiva para vestir las botellas. Esta tendencia la comenzó Mouton Rosthchild cuando encargó al pintor Philippe Julian una etiqueta conmemorativa del fin de la II Guerra Mundial, que coincidió con la mejor añada del siglo (1945) y desde aquel “boom“, artistas de la talla de Picasso, Braque, Henry Moore, Dalí, Chagall o Warhol han ilustrado las míticas etiquetas de esta bodega. En España los ejemplos más interesantes las encontramos en Enate que ha apostado por artistas de gran envergadura como Chillida, Gustavo Torner o Saura entre otros; o las preciosas etiquetas de la Bodega Albert i Noya que tiene en pintores catalanes sus principales aportadores de obra gráfica para sus botellas.

chateaumoutonrothschild

A modo de conclusión, se puede decir que actualmente las bodegas en España están dando a su imagen la importancia que merecen, aunque no siempre los bodegueros se atreven a apostar por diseños lo suficientemente atractivos para introducirse en el mercado de una manera valiente y diferente. En definitiva, hablamos de vender, de seducir al consumidor neófito para que realice la primera compra de una de nuestras botellas. Si además hemos cuidado el resto del proceso, si le ofrecemos un producto de calidad, tendremos un cliente fiel por mucho tiempo. Para ello, el empresario debería tener en cuenta que cada vez más compramos por impulso. Que el comprador tiene cada vez menos tiempo para decidir y que, si le facilitamos la tarea, seguramente se decantará por nuestra opción. Una etiqueta con un nombre sonoro y fácil de recordar, con un diseño que explique clara y rotúndamente qué contiene esa botella, será una etiqueta vendedora. El vino… hará el resto.

Los Vinos de Jerez

Posted by gen On November - 20 - 2008

Luces y sombras en Jerez, Alberto Coronado

El vino de jerez tiene todavía una esperanza para su salvación del olvido y del ostracismo. Los que lo apreciamos en su justa medida tenemos que hacer apología siempre que podamos de sus virtudes, que son muchas. Pero para poder disfrutarlo en todo lo que vale hay que conocerlo y sobre todo respetarlo.

Vino de Jerez

La naturaleza humana es cambiante y a veces contradictoria. Los medios de comunicación, las modas, la influencia de la prensa y el snobismo hacen que de repente un producto tenga un éxito inconmesurable y otras veces fracase estrepitosamente aún teniendo una calidad excepcional.

En el mundo del vino actual pasa muy a menudo. La reciente historia nos ha dado buenas pruebas de ello. Tuvieron su momento los vinos clásicos al estilo bordelés con crianzas prolongadas, altos de acidez y con una estructura media. Estos vinos, que hoy siguen siendo parte importante de las ventas del vino es España, no tienen el beneplácito de los medios escritos, aun siendo en muchos casos el espejo de nuestros vinos fuera de nuestras fronteras. Bodegas centenarias como Riscal, López Heredia, Marqués de Cáceres, La Rioja Alta o Muga , por poner un ejemplo son, sin duda en muchas partes del globo la principal referencia de los vinos españoles.

Ahora las modas van por otros caminos. Con la complicidad de algunos “top-ten” del vino, la tendencia va por vinos con mucho cuerpo y graduación alcohólica, con abundancia de maderas nuevas de los más prestigiosos bosques planetarios y crianzas más cortas. Estos “nuevos vinos” tienen su público fiel y hay numerosos casos de excepcionales etiquetas que han hecho moverse el mercado, incluso a las bodegas más tradicionales, en pos de un revisionismo enológico, para renovar barricas, hacer vinos con más fruta, o seleccionar con más mimo las uvas en la viña.

Vino de Jerez

Y de moda en moda se nos van acumulando cada vez más marcas para elegir, conviviendo vinos a la “antigua usanza” con vinos “supermodernos” con otros “mediopensionistas”. Eso sí, el consumidor medio cada vez está más liado con tantas marcas y con tanta maceración, con tanta barrica de tostado medio “plus” o con tanta media crianza, o crianza “plus”.

Y hablando de líos, si nos adentramos en el vino de Jerez ahí ya el consumidor si que está auténticamente perdido, huérfano y mareado. El vino de Jerez, desde que tuvo su gran momento, cuando era un vino aristocrático en los siglos XVIII y XIX, con el auge del comercio con Inglaterra a la actualidad, donde se bebe exclusivamente en ferias y “saraos”; el desconocimiento o la pereza hace que no se aprecie en su justa medida. Con su historia y su linaje, entroncado con nuestro pasado de una manera muy directa, con antecedentes como los Fenicios, los Tartesos, Al-Ándalus, Alfonso X El Sabio, Magallanes o Juan Sebastián El Cano hacen del Jerez el vino más auténticamente histórico de cuantos ha dado nuestro país.

sherry-master

El consumidor medio está más preocupado por las famosas “histaminas” que tanto dolor de cabeza provocan a los bebedores, que por la variedad de tipos, sensaciones o tipologías que ofrecen los vinos de Jerez, Montilla o Málaga.

Es realmente triste comprobar como en la propia zona donde se producen estos vinos, su desconocimiento sea patente, incluso irritante. La bodegas jerezanas, tal vez escudándose en su pasado glorioso, no han podido, o no han sabido ejercer el liderazgo en cuanto a comercialización de sus vinos en España o fuera de ella. Aun habiendo mercados históricamente fieles como en Reino Unido, Holanda o Alemania, no son suficientes para mantener el volumen de vinos que actualmente se elaboran en el Marco.

El consejo Regulador de la Denominación de Origen Jerez y Manzanilla de Sanlucar está actualmente haciendo ímprobos esfuerzos por relanzar estos vinos por medio de campañas y acciones directas, dirigidas sobre todo al consumidor y a la restauración. Desde estudios donde se pone de manifiesto que el consumo moderado de vinos de Jerez reduce considerablemente los niveles de colesterol o el intento de maridajes de vinos de Jerez con platos para entroncarlo con el mundo de la gastronomía, la apertura al mercado japonés donde ya hay verdaderos expertos venenciadores, hasta las contraetiquetas de vinos de Jerez con vejez calificada, son algunos de los intentos -sin duda loables- del consejo para promocionar nuestras joyas jerezanas en este mundo del vino tan convulso y tan sujeto a los vaivenes de las modas. El resultado más reciente es bastante elocuente: los vinos de Jerez con Vejez Calificada (los VORS Y LOS VOS) han incrementado sus ventas en un 56% y los finos y manzanillas mantienen o aumentas sus ventas. Pero no es sufiente.

jerez-vintage-poster

Aun así, es evidente, cualquiera que haya podido apreciar y degustar un buen oloroso, una manzanilla pasada, un fino en rama, un amontillado viejo o un Pedro Ximenez, que el Jerez no es un vino de “moda”, ni tan siquiera es un vino que se entregue fácilmente al primer sorbo o al primer acercamiento. Como todas las grandes obras maestras, necesitan su tiempo de observación, de estudio y de asimilación. Para saber apreciar un Jerez hay que saber de Jerez; de su historia, de su terruño, de su orientación, de su arquitectura, de su elaboración y de sus distintas gamas y complejidades. Porque si un fino, es un vino complejo, un amontillado lo es más y un palo cortado, ni te cuento.

Complejidad y personalidad, son los calificativos que mejor definirían a un buen Jerez. ¿no es lo que ahora, todos los experto en vinos que se precian buscan ansiosamente, tanto dentro como fuera de nuestras fronteras?. Pues más cerca no lo podíamos tener, y sin embargo lo ninguneamos, lo ignoramos incluso lo despreciamos. “esos son vinos para viejos”, “me producen dolor de cabeza” o “tienen mucho alcohol” son algunos de los calificativos más comunes que escuchamos a los “entendidillos”.

albariza_soil

Por supuesto que como he dicho antes, las bodegas tienen gran parte de la culpa de lo que está pasando con el Jerez. Primero porque buscaban beneficios rápidos, produciendo brandy a raudales y claro, relajándose con la comercialización e introducción en el mercado de los grandes jereces. Luego, tras el descenso de las ventas del brandy, ahora están intentando aprovechar el tirón del vino de mesa y abriendo bodegas por doquier en zonas “tradicionales”. Todos los esfuerzos para encontrar rentabilidad a un negocio rentable, pero mal gestionado.

El Consejo Regulador hace lo que puede, incluso creo que lo está haciendo bien, aunque también creo que a veces se sentirá desasistido, cuando no encuentra apoyos en las propias bodegas. Si uno viaja a ferias internacionales de vino, se pueden encontrar representadas las mayor parte de las bodegas históricas del mundo, menos Jerez. Alguna bodega jerezana en un esfuerzo por dar a conocer sus vinos en el extranjero, se la puede ver casi sola en un stand en la Wine Experience o en Vinexpo, rodeada de otros vinos, también excelsos, seguramente con menos historia pero también con menos complejos.

Llegados a este punto, necesito gritar un ¡basta ya! para poder desahogarme, porque entre unos ,por ignorancia, y otros ,por dejadez, estamos quebrando el mito del vino jerezano para relegarlo a la barra de la feria de turno mezclado con seven-up. Podríamos decirle a Fernando Alonso que celebre sus victorias en la Formula 1 regando con vino de Jerez a sus rivales en la competición.

Bodega Domecq, Jerez

A los hosteleros

¡basta ya! de servir (cuando los tienen) los finos y manzanillas calientes y abiertos desde hace más de un mes.

¡basta ya! de que tengamos que pedir licores de “finas” hierbas después de una comida porque no tienen un oloroso o un Pedro Ximenez a su temperatura. Por favor incluyan vinos de jerez en sus cartas, de verdad se lo agradeceremos.

A la prensa especializada

¡basta ya! de puntuaciones, tomando el vino de Jerez como uno más entre todos los crianzas y reservas del mercado. Las puntuaciones de los jereces se deben enmarcar dentro de su tipicidad y sólo son comparables con ellos mismos. Por su sistema de elaboración, no deberían fluctuar las puntuaciones tan ostensiblemente de unos años a otros (que no de unas cosechas a otras). Y por favor ¡escriban más sobre el tema!.

A los bodegueros

¡basta ya! de mirarse al ombligo y a vivir de los recuerdos, el vino de Jerez está abocado a ser grande de nuevo o morir en el intento.

Vayan a las ferias internacionales juntos, hagan fuerza, renueven sus etiquetas, actualicen el marketing para llegar a gente más joven.

Dejen de mirar el negocio fuera del Marco de Jerez y atiendan su casa, que se está agrietando.

Al consumidor

¡basta ya! de no saber diferenciar el todo (Jerez) con la parte (fino). Que un fino es un Jerez pero Jerez es algo más que finos y manzanillas.

Si tiene inquietud por el vino; pregunte, infórmese que descubrirá algo más que un vino; el Jerez es historia viva de nuestra civilización y el único vino realmente “nuestro” que aportamos al mundo vitivinícola.

Yo mientras tanto disfrutaré, mientras pueda, de un vino de sacristía escuchando una guitarra flamenca, que la vida se vive sólo una vez.

Vino de Jerez