A day in the world of ‘El Mozo Wines’

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El Mozo Wines includes Itxaso Compañón, Gorka Mauleon and their two children. Theirs is a story of revisiting roots. Due to certain life circumstances, they had to return to Lanciego in order to maintain the legacy that Itxaso’s father, Félix, left.
They have nine hectares of vineyards planted in bush vines, divided into eighteen plots located in different places in Lanciego and Viñaspre, all maintained in an environmentally friendly way. The main variety planted is the Tempranillo, but they also have Malvasía Riojana and a little Garnacha and Viura.
Our intention was to carry out an interview and see the vineyards and the winery. It was cold and grey on the day in Lanciego, as if it was autumn suddenly on the 17th September. We arrived at around ten in the morning and arranged to meet in the bar next to the church. While we were eating our breakfast, Gorka came in with a smile, as always. In the bar, there was some data on ageing provided by the Diputación Foral de Álava for different plots in Viñaspre and Lanciego.

Gorka, when are you going to begin the harvest and how is the vintage going?
I think we’ll start the harvest in a week, this year looks like it is going to be very good, with a slow maturing process, the grapes have a good state of health and a good acidity.
Come on, let’s go to the vineyard.

The day being as it was, we couldn’t visit any more than two vineyards; it had also rained in the days before and the paths and the vineyards were quite muddy. We arrived at the first vineyard ‘Monte de Viñaspre’, planted in the 1940s by Gorka’s grandfather, Teodoro Mauleón. It is a sloping vineyard planted with both red and white varieties, among which were Tempranillo, Garnacha, Viura, Malvasía Riojana and some others. It is planted in bush vines and with various Morgones (Acodos in other areas), an ancestral practice to replace dead vine shoots. We climbed to the top of the vineyard and kept talking while we observed the vineyard and its landscape.


What was it like at the beginning, an IT Engineer coming home with your wife to manage nine hectares of vineyards?
In 2010/11, we had to come back to Lanciego to take control of the winery. Compañón Arrieta, as the winery was formerly known, used to make wine using the traditional method with carbonic maceration and bulk harvest. In 2011, the whole harvest had to be sold the same way.
In 2012, we bottled the first Herrigoia vintage, we took this step to add value to the wine and, of course, the winery.
And how was it?
Bad. We fell flat on our faces with the wine market and with the word Rioja. We tried to sell our young wine at what we thought was a suitable price, but people didn’t understand it. There are some prices set by the market for different types of Rioja wine (joven, crianza, reserva…) whichever vineyard it comes from. This vineyard produces about 1000 kg per hectare and the average in our other vineyards is 5500 kg/ha, when the DO allows up to 7500 kg/ha. It was a turning point for the following vintage. Roberto Olivan gave us some advice about starting to make single-estate wines and therefore be able to raise the value of the vineyards. We decided to make Malaspiedras in 2013, a wine produced with grapes from the best micro-plots and we aged it for 10 months in 500 litre barrels.
So your opinion on the DOC Rioja…?
For us, as a small producer, the Rioja brand doesn’t help. The market already has set prices for Rioja, which the large wineries sell at lower prices than what we are able to offer. The problem is that it is not the same product, therefore we have to start increasing the value of the towns and subzones.
Do you think the DOC will produce a plan of the new classifications?
I think it’s difficult, but it would be best. It has spent years defending this type of classification, but it seems the DOC management is finding it difficult to take the plunge.
And the latest controversy between ABRA (Asociación de Bodegas de la Rioja Alavesa) and Rioja?
It was a vote between the members of ABRA about abandoning the DOC Rioja and right now, it has a list of conditions for a new DO presented to the Basque Government.

It started to rain harder and we decided to head towards the next vineyard. We passed through beautiful old vineyards on the hillside before reaching the road. Meanwhile, with the main conversation centering on meteorology, it begged the question:

Do you have a passion for weather and meteorology?
(Laughs) From a young age, I had a weather station and I liked writing down all the information about how the temperatures, rains etc were developing… I am all about writing everything down, Excel is essential in my life. It has helped me to have an exhaustive control over what happens in the winery.

We arrive at the next vineyard, a younger one, destined to produce Herrigoia, their wine produced by carbonic maceration. A vineyard planted in bush vines with the Tempranillo variety and a small amount of Viura, cultivated in an environmentally friendly way and with a yield of 5500kg per hectare.
Our last stop was the winery. It is a typical winery in Rioja Alavesa with two large cement vats where the grapes ferment (carbonic maceration). Underneath, there were cement tanks where the wine finishes fermenting. Simple and with enough space, they were preparing it for the introduction of the new vintage grape. When we entered, his wife Itxaso was labelling the last bottles of the new Malaspiedras vintage.


Where do the new wines and the name Cosmonauta come from?
Cosmonauta is the character that comes down from the sky in the patron saint celebrations in Lanciego. Every patron saint celebration in the towns in Álava has a character, here we have an astronaut. This is where the name of the two new wines we have produced comes from.
The Cosmonauta en el Barranco del Agua, a Malvasía Riojana (90%) and Viura (10%); the Cosmonauta en el Viaje del Tiempo, the first vineyard that we visited. Only 212 Magnums produced, as if it were a Claret, without the intervention of oenological products. We have already run out.
Which wine do you like the most from the winery?
The Herrigoia is our favourite. To think of the wine Félix produced, we are positioning it so well and selling it in places that he could never have imagined. This is what fills us with pride and satisfaction.
And the style of Carbonic Maceration with banana aromas?
When we released our first Herrigoia, we didn’t encounter this problem. People associated this type of wine with very prominent fruity aromas like banana, pear etc, but our Herrigoia didn’t have it. This type of aroma is not typical of carbonic maceration, but of the yeast that they used to sell during that period. However, nowadays, the concept of this type of wines is changing.
Which wines do you like in the area?
They coincide with the people that produce them in the vineyards, with maximum respect for the environment and the landscape such as: Abel Mendoza, Roberto Olivan, Tentenublo Wines, Oxer Bastegieta, Vinos Subterráneos etc.
How do you see the future of the area?
Well, don’t think I see it so promising. It is true that there is a current of vine growers that defend the landscape and the old vines, but we also have a problem with convenience and production. People that uproot an old vine to plant a trellised vineyard and a productive clone, that don’t go beyond and sell their grapes to the large cooperative wineries. It is a problem that is not only going to have an effect now, but will be harmful to coming generations.
But, regarding us, we are more and more happy. Things are starting to set off, if we compare with our first vintage in 2012. There is a larger segment of the market that is interested in knowing where wine comes from.

And lastly, will you continue to attend some of the town fairs explaining your wines?
Of course! It is something we will continue doing. If we want to bring wine closer to people, we shouldn’t keep it away from them.

Finally, we climbed to the winery’s txoko (an area where people come together to cook, eat, drink and socialise) to try the wines and enjoy Saturday. Many thanks, Itxaso and Gorka, for your hospitality. It was a pleasure!


Herrigoia 2015: Mainly Tempranillo with a little Viura. A wine made with carbonic maceration, a classic method of the Rioja Alavesa. Its best vintage up until now. Fresh and vibrant.
Malaspiedras 2015: Nothing more open, toasty aromas from the barrel. After five minutes, it changed completely, giving some very pronounced Violet notes that provide it with a very good complexity. A wine which the passing of time in the bottle will make it great.
The Cosmonauta en el Viaje del Tiempo 2015: We tried the wine from the first plot we visited. A wine made the old-fashioned way, like they used to before the clarets in the area. The wildest wine of the whole range.

  • Herrigoia 2015

    Red wine Carbonic maceration. Volume: 75 cl. Winery: El Mozo Wines. Production area: Rioja. Grapes used in this wine: Malvasía and Tempranillo and Viura.

    • Decántalo 90
    • Parker 89
    5,20 VAT incl.
    Online only
    Herrigoia 2015

    Red wine Carbonic maceration. Volume: 75 cl. Winery: El Mozo Wines. Production area: Rioja. Grapes used in this wine: Malvasía and Tempranillo and Viura.

    • Decántalo: 90
    • Parker: 89
    5,20 VAT incl.
    Online only
  • Malaspiedras 2015

    Red wine Aged on its lees. Volume: 75 cl. Winery: El Mozo Wines. Production area: Rioja. Grapes used in this wine: Viura and Tempranillo and Garnacha Tinta.

    • Decántalo 93
    12,25 VAT incl.
    Online only
    Malaspiedras 2015

    Red wine Aged on its lees. Volume: 75 cl. Winery: El Mozo Wines. Production area: Rioja. Grapes used in this wine: Viura and Tempranillo and Garnacha Tinta.

    • Decántalo: 93
    12,25 VAT incl.
    Online only
  • El Cosmonauta en el Barranco de Agua 2015

    White wine Young. Volume: 75 cl. Winery: El Mozo Wines. Production area: Rioja. Grapes used in this wine: Malvasía and Viura.

    • Decántalo 92
    14,50 VAT incl.
    Online only
    El Cosmonauta en el Barranco de Agua 2015

    White wine Young. Volume: 75 cl. Winery: El Mozo Wines. Production area: Rioja. Grapes used in this wine: Malvasía and Viura.

    • Decántalo: 92
    14,50 VAT incl.
    Online only
Escrito en Decantalo, Interview, Rioja | Tagged , |

Cata de la estación de Haro Wine Experience 2016

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On Friday 16th September, we went to the Haro Station district to the wine tasting organised by six wineries that form part of the district. It is one of the epicentres of Rioja wine and the Spanish wine-making scene, with more than 150 years of history since Haro railway station was built in 1859. The French arrived needing to buy wine due to plagues of mildew and phylloxera, and the train became the perfect link to transport it. The wineries were established in the following years:

– 1877: R López de Heredia
– 1886: Compañía Vinícola del Norte (CVNE)
– 1890: La Rioja Alta
– 1901: Bodegas Bilbaínas
– 1970: Muga
– 1987: RODA

The event was based on visiting the different wineries on foot, trying the new additions. We did the following tour:
CVNE: They had three different wineries and the represented brands that we would highlight are the Imperial range for its loyal representation of the Rioja reservas´ classic style; Viña Real Crianza 2012, which has a more Garnachero style and less woody presence, and Contino, with its Contino Reserva 2010 and single varieties of Garnacha and Graciano.
Muga: We were able to try their wines in the Torre Muga barrel room where the new addition, Prado Enea 2009, is in line with the great classics of the area.
Gómez Cruzado: We liked that this winery has changed its direction towards wine divided into plots and has a lower presence of new wood. In the range of blended wines, Vendimia Seleccionada 2015, with 50% Tempranillo and 50% Garnacha and with five months ageing in new wood, has gained a fresh and fruity spirit. Pancrudo, from a Garnacha plot located in a cold area in La Sierra de la Demanda, is made in barrels and concrete eggs and in our opinion, it is the best wine of the house.
Rioja Alta: Along with Tondonia, this is one of the wineries that brings classicism to all its wines. The new additions across the range that we tried were all very good, particularly the Viña Alberdi 2010 and the 904 Gran Reserva 2007.
R. López de Heredia: The new additions continue the classic style of long periods of ageing in old barrels. Their Viña Bosconia 2005 stands out.
Roda: In the winery´s modern wine cellar, we were able to try the whole wine range. The Roda I Reserva 2009 stands out for us for its great balance, fruit complexity and age.
Bodegas Bilbaínas: The Vinos Singulares that they were making very much attracted our attention. The single varieties of Graciano and White Tempranillo foretell a bright future. As a single-estate wine, the Viña Pomal Alto de la Caseta 2010 stands out, it is a high-end Tempranillo. It should also be noted that this young team from Bodegas Bilbaínos are enthusiastic to produce different wines.

Finally, we attended the `masterclass´ organised by Pedro Ballesteros, in which we had the opportunity to carry out the coupages characteristic of the district. Each winery presented wines in different stages of ageing, showing how to produce a completed wine. It was a very practical exercise to understand the philosophy of wineries.

After having tried wines from the district´s wineries all day, we have arrived at the conclusion that something is shifting. The single Tempranillo varieties are no longer the panacea, with the help of the Garnacha, above all in the youngest wines, they are more refreshing and fruity. Likewise, the contribution of new wood is decreasing in this type of wine. Regarding the classics of the long ageing process, they are the coupages, the terciary aromas and the delicate colours contributing to the passing of time, the bastions of the Station District.


Escrito en Designations of Origin, Events, News, Rioja, Wine tasting | Tagged , , |

Sherry wines: the vineyard

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The Solera system, Velo de flor, Manzanilla, Oloroso, Amontillado, Palo Cortado, Pedro Ximenez, there are many different concepts that spring to mind when referring to sherry wines. However, there are others such as Mahina, Carrascal or Balbaina, for example that are not so much associated with the region or not as well known.

They are simply names of reference plots in the Marco de Jerez, vineyards with special characteristics that make them stand out by producing wines with characteristic profiles.


We are not used to referring to specific vineyards or estates when referring to wines from Jerez. However provide you with a bigger insight into this aspect because we believe that it has an increasingly significant importance on the Spanish wine scene.

However, before we start with the specific plots of vineyards (pagos) and their specific characteristics, we will give a brief general introduction into the general characteristics of the conditions on the vineyards in Jerez.


The region is home to a warm climate, with a medium annual temperature of around 22ºC, which can reach as high as 40º in summer. The summer experiences the Ponente winds, humid, before the Levante, dry. The vineyards’ proximity to the sea and ocean winds help temper the weather and top with a characteristic humidity of the area known as “blandura” or dew, which reaches the farthest payments as Macharnudo in Jerez. Annual rainfall is around 600ml and is concentrated in the autumn and winter seasons, although 2016 has been a somewhat unusual year, with a very strong attack of mildew from the late April rains.


The “Albariza” is probably the main and most renowned soil in Jerez. The plots and vineyards planted on this soil variety come under the “Jerez Superior”. However there are other soil varieties that are so characteristic that makes them inferior plots such as those with mud in lower areas of the hills, as well as those with sand soils in coastal areas which are used for the Moscatel and Pedro Ximenez varieties.

The Albariza soils come from the sedimentation of the waters in the Oligocene. It is rich in calcium carbonate, clay and silica from the shells of diatoms and radiolarians that were present in the sea. This soils variety has a high clay content (50-60%), with silts (30-40%) and sand (15%-20%). It has a great capacity for retaining humidity, when it rains these soils act like a sponge, and when it is very hot the surface manages to retain the water.

As a result of the topography, the rocks formed by Albariza is formed by very gentle slops with gradients of around 10-15%. The soils are not all uniform either, as Albariza erodes, which differentiates the character on each of the plots.

Although these two variables, climate and soil, are very important in differentiating different plots and vineyards, geographical location also plays an important part, as the distance from the coast, the orientation and altitude can have an effect on grapes. Factors that can influence the quality of the vineyard include,

  • Albariza content and type of albariza. Examples of this include La Tosca de Barajuela, which is a type of Albariza which is present on grand estates such as Mahína in Sanlúcar and Macharnudo in Jerez. Its main characteristic is its great capacity to retain humidity, as are the course of Antehojuelas which belong to the soils of the Carrascal estate in Sanlúcar. Lustrillos is rich in gypsum, Pelirones is slightly rockier …. It is here where the Palomino variety unlocks its greatest potential.
  • The areas that are on slopes are not only different because of their temperatures and winds that come from the sea, but also for their Albariza content. As previously mentioned, the highest concentration of Albariza soils can be found on slopes. For example, in the Macharnudo estate there is a difference with the Macharnudo alto.
  • Exposure to the sun and winds. Less exposure to the sun and a bigger influence from the Ponente wind means that the grapes mature at a slower rate, producing a slightly more delicate wine.
  • Proximity to the sea: an important factor in regards to the finesse of the wine. Vineyards that are situated closer to the sea tend to experience a larger Atlantic influence and a more tempered climate.

Having explained the different factors that occur at the vineyard we will see the estates that exist in the frame and where they are located geographically. Here are some famous examples, since there are countless divisions within the estates.


  • Macharnudo is the most prominent plot of the zone. It is situated inland, but at one of the highest altitudes in the region with a high quality albariza which makes it an ideal terroir. There are many subdivisions within the estate as it is home to an impressive 56 hectares of vineyards, such as Macharnudo alto, Majuelo, Blanquez …
  • Aniña y Balbaina, on the same to Puerto de Santa María with a stronger Atlantic influence, and therefore with slightly more delicate wines.
  • Carrascal is one of the oldest estates of Marco de Jerez, and is one of the farthest from the sea.
  • Los Tercios, the closest to the Atlantic coast in Jerez.



  • Mahina, for the region this estate rivales the Macharnudo in Jerez. It is the most famous estate in the region, is home to the purest Albariza soils, but it is also complicated by its orientation and exposure to the constant dry Levante winds.
  • Callejuela, Pastrana, Hornillo y Miraflores with the Atlantic coast and delicate.

We have analysed a little more into the theoretical aspect of how estates are classified. However the industrialisation of the vineyards, large winemaking companies, the low price of grapes and the overproduction have indeed had a slight effect on the character of the vineyards in Jerez. Fortunately, there are winemakers who are trying to revive them. Examples of these winemakers include, Ramiro Ibañez, Fernando Angulo, Paola Medina, Armando Guerra, Willy Peréz, El Bolli, Jesús Barquín, Eduardo Ojeda, Álvaro Girón…

Thank you to all of those for the passion for the region, and for believing in its potential. They have sparked again our interest in Jerez.

Escrito en Decantalo | Tagged , , |

A Emoción dos Viños 2016.

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Last weekend we had the opportunity to go over to Valença Do Miño, in the Quinta de Santa Luzia in Portugal for the sixth edition of the A Emoción dos Viños fair. The fair is usually held in the cloister of the Gothic cathedral in Tui on the Spanish side, however due to restoration work the location had to be rearranged this year. These two bordering cities combine perfection and scene, a typical Portuguese Quinta, ideal for the fair.


The A Emoción dos Viños fair celebrates wines from all over the peninsula, but mainly those from Galicia and Portugal. The aim of the event is to meet people and vignerons. The intent of these small winemakers is to move you to the landscape where they work and how they interpret it. Sharing these moments with them they can help you understand many things about the wine. Often a typical wine-tasting is not enough to truly understand and evaluate these types of wines. The people, their personalities and their emotional play and important role.

We already know a few producers with whom we can share their new vintages. Envinate, Fedellos do Couto, Comando G, Borja Pérez, Forjas do Salnés and Albamar, with their wines that increasingly look to reflect the character of the terroir, soils and vines from where they come from.

We also were able to meet newer winemakers, such as Laura Lorenzo who produces in the Ribeira Sacra, charming and humble, Iago Garrido from the Ribeiro with spectacularly sharp white wines, Manuel Moldes from the Fulcro winery, Maria de Narupa and Alberto Nanclares in the Rías Baixes with their granite bottling, Bernardo Estévez with discretion and sensitivity with Issue and Francisco Blanco with his Callejuelas full of albariza. From Portugal we met Rodrigo Filipe and his Humus and serenity, Marical Dorado in his last vintage in the Vinho Verde zone, unmissable and positive, António Marques from Qunita da Serradinha with his sincere and direct wines, Silvia and Nadir from Os Golidardos, a lovely couple with an great sensitivity to publicize new vignerons and many more that are in the pipline to return next year.

It was an intense weekend during which we were given free rein to the sensibilities, and we were so fortunate to try so many wines. Thank you to Marina and Antonio for hosting A Emoción dos Viños. We hope to soon to transport you to the fair yourself by adding new additions to our ever growing catalog of wines.

Escrito en Decantalo, Wine tasting | Tagged , , , |

New Parker Points on wines from the Mediterranean, Central Spain and the Canary Islands

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It seems like we’re in for a treat since Luis Gutiérrez, the man at the helm of Parker for Spanish wines, has released 3 publications at the same time. We now have new points for Mediterranean wines, wines from the central zone and wines from the Canary Islands. Clearly the best scores have been awarded to those wines which have preserved the character of the grape, with little extraction and little presence of the wood.



This vast area in the south east of Spain which is home to a notably severe climate in terms of its heat and droughts. According to Luis Gutiérrez, the last year has been hard on the region given the notably hot weather it has experienced. A result of this is that some producers have not been able to produce all of the cuvee that they normally had.

In Valencia, the wines by Rafael Cambra have had a fantastic year. Made with the native Forcayat variety, his wine La Forcallá de Antonia 2014 was awarded 93 Parker points. His other cuvées have also had a good year, thanks to a lighter vinification process. For example, his wine Rafael Cambra Uno was awarded 91 points.

Also in Valencia, the wines by Celler del Roure are defined the use of Mediterranean grape varieties and production in amphorae. As an example we have Cullerot 2015, aged for 6 months in amphorae and awarded 90 Parker Points.

Then in Jumilla, Casa Castillo continues to successfully interpret the vintage and the terroir. Its Syrah wine Las Gravas 2013 was awarded 94 points, while their Garnacha Tinta El Molar was given 93 points, and their Casa Castillo Monastrell 2014, 91. A new winemaker to follow is Julieta, with their “pitarra” vineyard as they refer to it. The winery was awarded 91 points with their wine La del Terreno Monastrell 2014.

From Manchuela, Ponce remains a key player with their productions using the Bobales and Albillos varieties. Their wine El Reto 2015 was awarded 93+ Parker points, one of their best vintages.

In Alicante, Bernabé Navarro remains one of the best exponents in the region, producing in two different zones. One of these is the Mata Natural Park, where they produce very personal white winse, with macerations carried out with the skins and no addition of sulphur. An example of this is El Carro, which was awarded 91 points. Then in the interior Villena zone, the winery used red grape varieties to produce the rosé wines such as Musikanto, which was awarded 90 points, and the red wine Beryna, which was awarded 92+.

In Albacete we have Envínate, currently very fashionable on the Spanish wine scene with their Garnacha Tintorera Envínate Albahra, which was awarded 92 points.

Central Spain.

According to Luis, there has not been much to comment on from this region. The area lies between the southern zone of Jerez y Montilla Moriles and La Mancha, it is a great producer of bulk wine and wine alcohol.

Notably, the highest score in the area was given to a sweet wine from Málaga produced by Jorge Ordoñez, the wine Viñas Viejas Nº3 with 93 points.

Marqués de Griñon has also taken steps, who have refined the lines and left the wood to really mark their wines, and Vallegarcia, who each vintage continues to produce better wines, planting with native Mediterranean varieties.

Canary Islands.

The work of various winemakers has helped place the Canary Islands among the top level of Spanish wines. In Tenerife there is Envínate, Suertes del Marqués, Ignios y Matias and Torres en la Palma. You

Since 2010 the islands have been transformed and have found their identity in the use of native varieties, volcanic soils and an Atlantic character provided by the presence of the sea. Although it is possible to find slightly more structured wines made with foreign varieties, the results have not been overly satisfactory according to Luis Gutiérrez.

The Suertes del Marqués winery together with Roberto Santana in the D.O Valle de la Orotava began interpreting the grapes with a lightly fresher character with less extractive macerations. Year after year the results to prove to be a success, with 95 points awarded to their wine Suertes del Marqués El Ciruelo 2014 and 93 points to Suertes del Marqués El Lance 2014.

Then there is Envínate, a project by Roberto Santana and his three partners, Lala, Alfonso and Jose, who produce their wines in the Anaga region. The winery works with local farmers and wine growers who own and cultivate very old vines of native varieties. This wines are always awarded highly by Parker, but limited production and the high demand means they are quick to sell out. In September we will have the new vintages of their wines in this area.

Ycoden-Daute-Isora is the area where Borja Pérez works, a young vintner and the fourth generation of winemakers who has also opted for the use of native varieties and productions. Given that their wines Ignios Vijariego Negro and Ignios Baboso Negro were awarded 94 and 93 points respectively, we can see that this was the right path to take.

In Palma, Matías and Torres are perhaps the best exponents. Victoria is the architect of these wines, who felt the call of her native island, and returned to produce wines as they did before. As a result, we have Criollo Albillo and Negramoll, produced with native varieties and awarded 93 and 91 points respectively.


Escrito en Decantalo, Parker | Tagged , , , |

New Wines for July 2016.

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In this post of new wines coming this July we have a little bit of everything for you! We have 6 great wines for you, sparkling, white and red wines, light wines and wines with slightly more body.


Clos Lentiscus Malvasía Blanc de Blancs is a sparkling wine produced in the Garraf Natural Park. Manuel Avinyo and his brother are responsible to renovating the estate, cultivating the vineyards using biodynamic viticulture, situated on slopes exposed to the sea. The pair have taken the native Malvasía de Sitges grape and turned it into a sparkling version. This sparkling wine is would be perfect to serve to guests, or even just to enjoy at any time during the day to refresh yourself.

The new 2015 vintage of Dido Blanc is the second wine on our list. This wine is produced by Sara Pérez and Rene Barbier in the Montsant, two people who have been key figures in viticulture in the region and who were brought up in the industry on their parent’s wineries in the Priorat. Now it is clear that their project seeks to respect the surrounding environment, nature and the land. They have worked hard to ensure that the vineyards and winery integrate into the landscapes, and that their wines express the character of the land. Dido Blanc is an example of this working philosophy, where its Mediterranean character reflects the local climate, yet its fresh profile shows the time of production. A long awaited arrival, with the previous vintage sold out months ago.

Ramon Parera and Jordi Arnan founded Pardas in 1996 on the Can Comas estate with the aim of producing authentic wines in a manner than was respectful to the environment. If you ever visit the Can Comas estate you will see that everything changes, time stopes and nature welcomes you. You will pass the river Riudebillas, enter the valley and see terraces full of vineyards planted at the beginning. The winery which had been in disuse since the civil war has been adapted perfectly to their needs. This Pardas Xarel.lo 2012 is a balanced wine, exciting like everything to come from the Can Comas estate. The good grapes and the know-how at the winery results in a complex, light and long wine.

Then we have Forcallà de Antonia 2014, a more personal creation by Rafael Cambra. This wine is produced with a minority grape variety from Valencia which transmits a certain freshness. It has taken a few years for the winery to find its feet, but in the last few years it has managed to transform grapes into wines with a personality where freshness and fruitiness play a vital part.

We then move over to the island of Tenerife, more specifically the DO Valle de Orotava, where the use of native varieties, volcanic soil compositions, braided vines and cultivation techniques are all key in the local winemaking. Suertes del Marques El Lance 2014 is a red wine produced applying all of these features by Jonatán García and his oenologist Roberto Santana in his last year advising the winery. This wine is a treat for the senses, and transports you to the landscape of the island, with a minerality of the volcanic soils and the trade winds of the ocean.

Our final wine on our list is the new vintage of Mauro 2014tene, a safe bet for any self-respecting table. Mariano García, former winemaker of one of the most legendary wineries in Spain, Vega Sicilia, along with his children produces in Tudela de Duero. A peculiarity of the wine comes from the Syrah variety, planted by Mariano to complement the Tinta de Toro grape. A wine of modern cutting structure and ideal for people who are stuck in the middle as a lighter wine with body.

Escrito en New wines | Tagged , , , , |

Sparkling Wine. The traditional or ancestral method?

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Sparkling wines from around the world have two things in common: sugars and yeasts. Two vital ingredients which are necessary for the production of those refreshing bubbles.


There are in fact many types of ways to produce a sparkling wine. One of the most famous methods is perhaps the Traditional method (or the Champagne method when referring to Champagne), a method created by Dom Perignon close to the city of Epernay in 1668 in Champagne, France. The method was then introduced to Spain in 1958 by Joan Raventós when he began producing cava. The Traditional, or Champagne, method is broadly speaking a sparkling wine that is formed through two fermentations. The first fermentation results in a still wine. This wine then undergoes a second fermentation in the bottle, adding sugar and yeast to help produce CO2 in the wine. After a few weeks, months or even yeasts, depending on their ageing, the wine is disgorged to remove the yeasts that have done their job, putting on the final cork and optionally adding Liqueur d’expedition, which is made up of sugar and some kind of brandy or a formula of the winery. Every stage and process of this method is measured and studied. For example, the wine is clarified to ensure that it is not cloudy, ensuring the second fermentation is carried out smoothly, or the amount of sugar needed to create the desired carbon and time measured required to refine the bubbles.

Then comes our second method, even older, the Ancestral Method. This method dates back to 1531, and was created by the Benedictine monks of Saint-Hilaire, Languedoc. It is simpler than the Traditional method, since it only required one fermentation. For this method, the first fermentation is not completely finished when the wine is bottled. It follows that the carbon dioxide is produced by the grapes’ natural sugars. The ancestral development is much simpler and more spontaneous than the Champenoise method.

The number of fermentations is not the only difference between the two methods, and not even the most important. Big differences come from the vineyard, grape, climate and varieties. A winemaker who uses the traditional method in the region of Champagne will harvest the grapes from around to around 8-10% alcohol, so that the second fermentation later increases this to 11-12% with the addition of sugars. This, together with the climate of Spain, is completely different since the phenolic maturity of native varieties is achieved at a higher probable alcohol content, so the grapes are harvested in a state, say, something greener, without development aromatic optimal. However, with the ancestral method all of the sugars come from the grape itself, which means that they must be at the right point of maturation to perform all of the fermentation and produced the desired CO2 in the bottle.

The Traditional Method is used more widely today, however there is a new wave of processors that have begun to develop sparkling wines under the old method with very interesting results, producing more direct, fruity sparkling wines that are somewhat less complex because they are not aged for as long in the bottle.

Two types of sparkling wines, produced in very different way right from the vineyard. If you would like to try and see the difference between these two production methods, here we have a few excellent examples of each method.

Good examples of cavas produced using the traditional method include Recardo Gran Reserva Brut Nature, and At Roca Brut Reserva.

In regards to sparkling wines made using the ancestral method, we recommend La Salada Tinc Set Ancestral, and the Rafael Sala Ancestral.

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Wine Tasting, En Primeur wines from 2015

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Yesterday we had the opportunity to taste wines from the 2015 vintage that are still in the barrel. Prestigious wineries which put their wines on sale en primeur gave us a little taster and insight, and we are now able to share our first impressions. Generally, it has been a fairly dry and warm year in Spain.



It’s fair to say that it has been a year of contrasts for Ricardo and Alvaro Palacios, with record breaking temperatures and little rain until the harvest. When September came, the weather changed with rainy days that helped freshen the harvest.
The result has been impressive, the aromatic wines have a slightly more mature character which adds complexity, but in the mouth has a freshness and tension that gives the wine an extraordinary balance.
Corullón 2015. This is a good year in balance, where the concentration and freshness prevail.
Moncerbal 2015. This vintage comes with a strong mineral character and a good texture on the mouth. This is perhaps one of the best vintages made from this estate.
Las Lamas 2015. This wine continues its journey in becoming a fresher wine, with a character slightly less structured and mineral than Moncerbal.
According to Ricardo, this will be the year of Faraona 2015. This wine is boasting and aromatic complexity that will evolve over time and a mouth full of thousands of textures make the Faraona an extraordinary wine.


The Eguren brothers in Toro have had a hotter and drier year than normal. Their wines as a result have become more concentrated, which with delight consumers of these wines.
Almirez 2015. This wine is in its phase of taming the tannins in the barrel, the lowest of the three is showing that there will be major changes this year in the winery.
Victorino 2015. At the moment this wine is more accessible, but it also boasts an important structure and minerality that further develops with barrel ageing.
Alabaster 2015. This is concentration in a wine, the perfect harmony between optimal ripening of the grapes and large extraction work in the warehouse. This wine will evolve over time with a complexity of spices, roasted notes and fruitiness.

Ribera Del Duero

Peter Sisseck and Dominio de Pingus have also experienced a hot and dry year, which brings forward the date of harvest and decreases production relative to previous years. The vineyards used to produce PSI are scattered throughout the Ribera de Duero, and a cultivated and worked meticulously to ensure that the wine continues a great evolution year and year.
With PSI 2015, the Grenache grape plays an important role in the blend in the balance fruitiness, intensity and elegance.
Flor de Pingus 2015 has enjoyed a good year with optimal ripening and good overall health of the vineyard, this is a vintage more accesable in its youth due to the fruitiness provided by the grapes.
Pingus 2015 has suffered a slight decline in production to a somewhat atypical final harvest since there had been no change in temperature between day and night. During the whole month of September an entire team analysed the developments and as a result they ended up with healthy and optimally ripened grapes, but with a slightly lower production. Like its brother wine, this wine offers a good accessibility in its youth, with a large horizon full of singularities that develop over time brother.

Madrid-Sierra de Gredos

Comando G and one if its members, Dani Landi, are the key players in the region and the valleys that compost it. A warm year has benefited its most extreme ploys such as the Rumbo al Norte which has achieved an unusual aromatic complexity due to optimum ripening of the grapes and the corresponding tautness in the mouth that characterize these high Garnachas plots.

The wines La Mujer Cañón and La Reina de los Deseos are located close to the Cadalso de los Vidrios, at a slightly lower altitude, so the wamth is noticed a little more. These wines are therefore offering a slightly fruiter and less floral character of the Grenache.


In Rioja we have three different wineries. Two of the wineries, the Eguren family and Artadi, have been influenced by a slightly more atlantic climate, while the third, Álvaro Palacios in Rioja Baja, has been slightly more influenced by a more arid and Mediterranean climate.

It has been a dry year for the Eguren family, especially from May when temperatures rose and there was a stark lack of rainfall, bringing the harvest forward by 3 weeks.  This vintage is marked by ripe fruit, but with a lesser concentration than previous years with its wines La Nieta and El Bosque, which also boast a great balance with the ageing between fruit and oak.

At Artadi they also saw the vintage brought forward, but having a final stable maturation and linear fruit in their wines is very precise and clean. This year their wines have a good balance.

For Álvaro Palacios it is the debut for their Quiñón de Valmira, a great wine from a Grenache vineyard planted 615 metres above sea level on the Mount Yerga. This wine demonstrates how the Rioja Baja and the Grenache grape go hand in hand, against the tough climate the Grenache gives way to a fine and balanced wine. A great wine that will speak volumes.


Álvaro Palacios has had to deal with record temperatures in the Priorat, in a year that also experienced winter snow. Álvaro has qualified this vintage as hedonistic and enjoyable from its youth.

This year has seen the introduction of a new wine from the winery in the Priorat, the Augbaguetes 2015. A wine plot located in the Bellmunt, a hot area due to its lower altitude, as well as less hours of sunshine due to the orientation of the vineyard and its subsequent hours of shade. In recent years the winery has worked in a conscientious manner to increase the quality of the wine, until deciding to release it onto the market as a “vino de parcela” (wine from a single plot). This great wine from a warm area reflects Mediterranean aromas, and concentrated with a good structure.
Gratallops Vi de Vila 2015. This wine continues its line towards freshness, while this warmer year has given way to a fresher, Mediterranean aromatic notes and a little more weight on the palate.
Finca Dofi 2015. This wine is suprising in its accessibility and power, interwined with notes of citrus and red fruits, giving an incredible complexity. In the mouth, the concentration is plausible with silky tannins that predict a great future.
L’Ermita 2015. Airy, subtle and offering a perfect balance. It is the greatness of the vineyard that is harvested a month prior, which accumulate aromas, flavors and textures that make it what it is, a great wine.

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Purchasing ´Wine Futures´/ En Primeur

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We are now in June, and the harvest from 2015 is now resting peacefully in barrels and the time has come for the most exclusive wines from large wineries to be offered for sale “en primeur” (wine futures).


En Primeur, or ´wine futures´, was a concept created in Bordeaux by the most famous and prestigious châteaus. The wineries mark a price lower than that of the bottled wine. Given that vintages can vary and without an official rating, buyers make and investment and must evaluate how they believe the future vintage will be, having to predict the evolution of the wine.  Here come into play the skills of a good taster of advanced predicting whether it would be bad, good, very good or excellent vintage and what that would impact on the buyer’s investment. Therefore an advantage of buying wines en primeur is that the wines may be considerably cheaper during the en primeur period than they will be once bottled and released to the market However, that is not guaranteed and some wines may lose value over time.

An example of this is the 1982 Cheval Blanc (excellent vintage). The wine sold en primeur in 1983 for around €350-450 per box, while now you can except to pay around €9500, i.e a return on your investment up 21 times. However, in 1997 wines went for a slightly higher price en primeur, with a bottle of Haut Brion costing €150 costing the same in 2003.  On the other hand, in 1997 the wines went with a slightly higher price in advanced and was not at all a good year so for example, a bottle of Haut Brion that cost 150 €, cost the same in 2003. The vintages in Bordeaux can vary year after year given the climate variations that occur.

Year after year, the importance of the vintage is being diluted with the ever growing knowledge and understanding of viticulture and winemaking, although the character of the vintage is still important. As a market, the law of supply and demand also applies to the world of wine, with prices going up and down depending on the availability of wine. Some of the best wineries in Spain are rapidly gaining a reputation worldwide, with their best wines desired around the globe. This increase in demand has seen prices increase, resulting in the introduction of en primeur sales in Spain to delimit the sale of these wines. Therefore sales in advanced is a good time to have some of the best wines at a more affordable price and also, perhaps, the only time that can be purchased, as many cuvees produced in limited quantities sell out before even hitting the market.

And why are we explaining all of this? Because it will soon be the case that you will be able to purchase the best wines in Spain en primeur, for more or less half the price of the bottle once it has been released onto the market. Of course, you have to wait around 1 or 2 years for those wines that still lie in the barrels before they reach your doorstep.

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Fermentation in Winemaking

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By definition, “Fermentation is a catabolic process of incomplete oxidation, which does not require oxigen, and the final product is an organic compound”


Fermentation is an essential process in the winemaking process that must be carried out to convert the ‘sugars’ of the grapes to the ‘alcohol’ of the wine.

For many years the Greeks believed that this fascinating process of converting the sugars into alcohol was the work of Dionysus. During the middle ages, alchemists were responsable for carrying out these alcoholic fermentations without any technical bases, not until the 19th centry when Louis Pasteur (1822-1895) described and formalised the process.

There are many types of fermentation, but usually when in regards to winemaking we tend to only refer to two: alcoholic and malolactic fermentation.

Alcoholic Fermentation.

Alcoholic fermentation occurs between the sugars, that have been naturally created in the grape, and the yeast. The queen yeast variety is the Saccharomyces Cerevisiae, a yeast that either comes naturally from the grapes, or from yeasts selected in the laboratory. The joining of these two elements transform the sugar to alcohol, which releases other substances such as heat and C02.

It is important to know how alcoholic fermentation occurs and whether it has been carried out with native yeasts, or rather with selected yeasts that have been inoculated to control the process. A wine that undergoes fermentation with native yeasts is usually more complex and offers more characteristic flavours of the territory, although this production technique does run some risks as they can coexist with other wild yeasts which divert the fermentation process and therefore the final result. Alcoholic fermentation carried out with inoculated yeasts ensures a linear and stable fermentation, however this production method results in a wine with less territorial complexity.

Malolactic Fermentation.

This is the second type of fermentation associated with viticulture, where malic acid is converted to lactic acid and C02 by lactic acid bacteria. Malolactic fermentation is carried out to soften the acidity of the wine, to biologically stabilise it and modify the organoleptic qualities of it.

Malolactic fermentation is carried out after alcoholic fermentation and is carried out in a natural manner, usually at the beginning of spring when temperaturas are around 20-22ºC, or in the wineries facilities where temperaturas are climatized to  similar level.

The tank or deposite in which malolactic fermentation is carried out can also have a great effect on the style of wine, depending on whether it takes place in small and new deposits such as barrels, or larger, more neutral ones.

Here we have two wines that serve as an excellent example of how a different malolactic fermentation can affect the profile of the wine,

Ramírez de Ganuza Reserva. This wine undergoes malolactic fermentation in French oak barrels. This will result in more intense aromas from the mannoproteins that organoleptically provide lactic notes that result in a wine with more body. This style of wine has experienced a boom in popularity in recent years. .

Viña Tondonia Reserva. This wine undergoes a second fermentation (malolactic fermentation) in large wooden vats, where the contribution of mannoproteins is insignificant and the real different lies in the change of the Sharp acidity in the wine to something more pleasent.

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