Free delivery + Pulltex corkscrew as a gift on first orders over €69. Use code BIENVENIDA

Wine blog
Don't miss our articles on the world of wine. Wineries, production types, wine regions, pairings, interviews with the top professionals in the winemaking world and all the latest wine news.

Eloi Cedó and Nacho Martínez, Winners of the Vila Viniteca Tasting Award 2023

28/02/2024 Interviews

In the enthralling realm of wine, where each bottle narrates its own distinctive tale, it is often the bond between individuals that truly enhances the experience. For Eloi Cedó and Nacho Martínez, this connection transcends mere friendship; it is a partnership rooted in a shared zeal for wine and in a profound mutual respect and admiration.

Not only are they consummate professionals and friends, but they also form an exceptional team. Together, they have achieved a significant milestone by winning the 15th Vila Viniteca Tasting Contest for Couples in March 2023; a prestigious tasting competition limited to 120 couples, which attracts wine enthusiasts and experts from various cities around the globe, boasts a handsome prize, and sells out registrations faster than tickets for a Coldplay concert.

Let us delve a little deeper into the lives of Eloi Cedó, a winemaker from Mallorca, and Nacho Martínez, a sommelier and head of international purchasing at Decántalo, the victorious duo of the fifteenth edition of the Vila Viniteca Tasting Contest for Couples.

- How did you meet, and how long have you known each other?

Nacho:

In 2013, I visited the 4 Kilos winery where Eloi was assisting Xesc in the cellar. After we finished tasting, I was introduced to Eloi who was bustling around the winery, and he brought out a freshly bottled Château Paquita (a wine Eloi crafts in Mallorca). He uncorked that exquisite wine and amid our conversations, as we savored the bottle, a solid friendship began.

Eloi:

If memory serves, it was around 2013 or 2014, during Sónar, I went to La Teca (a gourmet shop), part of Vila Viniteca, to enjoy a glass of wine, and there was Nacho behind the bar with his charisma and expertise. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't captivated by his personality. That very day I went to buy a Coàgul vinyl and gifted it to him.

- Nacho, what can you tell us about Eloi, your tasting partner?

Eloi is an unclassifiable and iconoclastic individual. He deeply cares for his close ones and is always there to make your troubles seem less daunting. I believe his wines reflect that too, which is why they astonish. A good friend with whom I've shared countless anecdotes and with whom I have an impeccable understanding in our little worlds.

- And you, Eloi, what can you tell us about Nacho, your tasting partner?

What to say about him... First and foremost, he's a great friend, and then my tasting partner.

I think he's a wild yet sensitive creature, a remarkable duality in a human being. Intelligent and kind-hearted. And as a tasting partner, he's one of the most knowledgeable people I know, with a very special tasting style; he knows what he likes, and he knows how to articulate it.

- With all your knowledge and experience, what has been the most useful when it comes to tasting?

Nacho:

All the experience accumulated over the years in different wine industry roles and my current job at Decántalo, where I have the chance to sample an endless variety of wines with very diverse profiles. I also believe that starting in the wine world on the production side helps you to taste wines in a more unfettered manner.

Eloi:

Being a winemaker, I suppose not tasting wines as liquid poems, as an endless array of aromatic notes, is a factor.

My experience in the cellar also aids me in adapting the intrinsic aromatic profiles of each varietal to my own taste. For example, we're often told that syrah smells of tapenade and violet; to me, it smells of garbage and pine caterpillar (or milpeus in Mallorca), a caterpillar usually found under stones that, when touched, emits a highly offensive pheromone, but to me, it smells like syrah.

- What are the pros and cons of tasting separately or together?

Nacho:

If it's a blind tasting, I prefer to taste with someone; sharing the wine's nuances with my partner helps me define it much better. If it's to analyze and rate a wine, I prefer to taste it alone so that no one influences my decision.

Eloi:

The pros are that you're not alone in the decision-making, which is a relief given my indecisiveness... And it is justified to laugh because a lone person laughing with a glass in hand can be somewhat off-putting.

The cons, I suppose, are that each couple has their roles and sometimes it's hard to assert one's view without trampling on your partner's. Fortunately, with Nacho, everything is quite smooth, and when we decide, we do so firmly, owning the response as one.

- How did the idea of participating together in the Vila Viniteca Tasting Contest for Couples come about?

Eloi:

I guess it was out of camaraderie, I don't really remember, to be honest.

Nacho:

To have one weekend a year to ourselves and indulge in some good feasting.

- In 2024, the Vila Viniteca Tasting Contest for Couples will celebrate its sixteenth edition, and each year it gains greater international projection and a substantial reward. Do you think it contributes to making wine knowledge, consumption, and enjoyment more social? What do you think accounts for its success in attracting participants?

Eloi:

I believe what Vila Viniteca has achieved is hard to match and it certainly contributes to almost everything you've mentioned... in terms of domestic consumption and tasting, definitely. In terms of the market, I'm not sure. But to gather 120 couples of this caliber, with all the logistics they organize, and the great team ensuring the tasting is a success, is phenomenal! In the end, they are special days where we meet friends and punish our livers under the guise of learning more about wine.

Nacho:

It's an event that has grown more splendid year after year. Thanks to the impeccable organization by Vila Viniteca, which makes it increasingly spectacular, and also because every so often we like to be put to the test.

Moreover, many familiar faces attend, and it's a weekend where wine bars and restaurants with a good wine selection feel the arrival of all participants.

- You've been participating together in the Vila Viniteca Tasting Contest for Couples for several editions. How do you prepare? Is it challenging not being geographically close?

Nacho:

We don't specifically prepare for the contest. It's our respective professions that have us tasting many wines with different profiles separately. Thus, when we confront the wines in the contest, we apply everything we've learned over the years. We complement each other well when making decisions and fine-tuning the wine; we may not always get it right, but our reasoning is well-founded.

Eloi:

Living far apart is indeed challenging. I believe we do little preparation for the contest, but we prepare and taste extensively to continue growing personally and professionally. I try to ensure that any wine-related gathering I attend, people serve the wines blind. I find this approach extracts double the value from the wines: you enjoy them and test yourself.

- Before a race, it is considered essential to eat a proper breakfast, perform warm-up exercises, and mentally prepare. In the context of the tasting contest, do you follow any pre-competition rituals? And during the contest, is there any part you consider the most challenging?

Eloi:

I'm not particularly superstitious, though I suppose this year I'll try to replicate something of what I did last year, or at least the attire... which is a combination of clothing from my late mother and brother. The biggest issue we face is that we enjoy life a bit too much in the days leading up to the tasting, ha, ha, ha, making it difficult to arrive in top form...

Nacho:

The hardest part is not to arrive hungover on the day of the competition. As mentioned earlier, it's a weekend filled with emotions and socializing. Last year we held back the night before, so this year we might try to do the same.

Eloi:

During the contest, the most grueling part for me is the protocol, that hour you're locked in there before the contest starts, it feels endless... I think they should provide a restroom or catheterize us all, because the nervousness that the Barcelona venue, with its ceilings and magnitude, instills in me, is unsettling. Once the wines are served, everything flows, whether we perform well or not.

- Have you noticed a before and after winning the contest? How has it benefited you?

Eloi:

Perhaps more recognition from people within the wine world, many of whom are good friends, and the expressions of affection in the days following the contest were wonderful. But what I cherish most is Nacho's face upon winning and the hug we shared; that day we achieved something beautiful. But neither Crocs nor Almax have sponsored us for this year's tasting (he jokes).

Nacho:

For us, it has been more about the acknowledgment of years of dedication to our craft, which has been the most rewarding aspect. That our profession and lifestyle have been reflected in an award and recognition from the wine community.

- Is there a particular wine from the Tasting Contest for Couples that you remember and that surprised you especially, and why?

Eloi:

From last year, the Paul Jaboulet Aîné La Chapelle 1991, for being an emotional wine. And from the semifinals, the De La Riva pasture wine, even though we didn't guess it right. It's impressive that, in the end, many of the more affordable wines blind-tasted are the ones that move us the most, like last year's Casa Castillo Monastrell 2021, or a Rancio Seco from De Muller, from a previous contest, which left people amazed, and if I recall correctly, was chosen as the best wine ahead of Château Grillet!

Nacho:

Viña Tondonia Gran Reserva 2001. With this wine, we began to identify some of the other wines from the qualifying round that led us to the final, besides being the wine we enjoyed the most from that phase. Then in the final, La Chapelle 1991, by Jaboulet, for being the wine we correctly identified at first attempt, except for the vintage, and which I kept in my glass to relish while we awaited the results.