In Spain they drink less wine than ever, 17 liters per capita. Half that of France or Italy
These artists came demonstrate that things are not as they were, we have come
They fight for that model. For the cult of the vineyard. For the return to the primitive. With little money and a lot of ambition. And often face the incomprehension of his peers and neighbors who never understood his philosophy and branded them eccentrics. And with the public, of which they have never received one euro because for them modernize the wine sector supposed to start, machining, standardize and focus on vulgarity. And lose your soul.
That's not the road map of fools. That is not going anywhere. Spain, the first vineyard in the world by extension, with more variety and tradition than any other, sold, however, their bottles in international markets at a price much lower than their secular rivals Old World (France and Italy) and while, can not compete with the New World (Australia, Chile, Argentina, New Zealand, South Africa) in the lower segments. Neither old nor new. Neither good nor bad. We are invisible. And that is perceptible in any big wine store in London or New York, where our brands are absent and have to go to the neighborhood grocery stores to finally encounter red cheap and mediocre cava made in Spain. Such lack of prestige is also evident on the shelves of the Duties of half the world's airports, where one finds the most obvious wines, stale, outdated and poorly labeled Spanish wine sector against the glamorous French, Italian sympathy and cool touch of the new players. That image is projected on the information highways of the world: low price, low image and little hook. Topics to be banished. The global industry popes define our vineyard as a "diamond in the rough that is ignored almost everything and can give surprises." It seems that we have not yet heard.
In June I attended an event organized in Boston by Wine Spectator, one of the bibles of the industry overall, which met at the Marriott Copley to 200 of the best wineries in a score of countries willing to show and to taste their products a thousand fans who had paid $ 200 to attend the event. A unique opportunity to be released in the U.S., making it sniff competition and interact and meet consumer tastes. However, the impression he gave in Boston Spanish wine was painful. Our representation was a level below that of France, Italy, Argentina or Australia. Very few owners of Spanish wineries had deigned to move to the United States and had left their business stands in the hands of the majority of the time it had been in Spain, did not know the hold that represent or speak Spanish. That night, one of the few winemakers in attendance, Jose Manuel Ortega, a former banker with hyperactive wine projects in Argentina, Chile and Ribera del Duero, which runs hundreds of thousands of miles in coach with his wines under his arm and has ensured that The New York Times exalt its Malbec wines, gave me some key Spanish fiasco: "Each denomination strip on your own and no outside an overall picture of Spanish wines or even what is Spain, not there are good Spanish restaurants in the world to serve as a showcase for our products, as do the Italians have known not encourage wine tourism in Napa (California) is a transfer of nine million people, and in Argentina, about two million, they spend and exert word of mouth, and, above all, our business has been minimal effort: people of Spanish wine is not moving. " Beside him, another man in the sector, Gonzalo Verdera, a Harvard-trained economist Todovino driver, one of the most active clubs in the modern sector in our country (created under the goal of being the "sommelier personal" each of its customers), completed the thought of José Manuel Ortega: "We have no image.'ve sold much outside, but we managed to create brand-country. global brands do not have in size and reputation. We created great wines, but not has created a business structure management, communication and marketing around them. Towards the future must concentrate on the middle class, making $ 10 wines of good quality and with a clean and clear. And above all, there that define the image of Spain that do not fully realize. "
Faced with this gray perspective, Fools say the key to success is to fill each bottle of quality, personality and difference. And learn to sell. Something we've never made it past the bulk historically nameless we sent to Europe to grade, color, body and taste their wines in exchange for a few crumbs. Just as we do with the olive oil, we give to bottle and market the Italians, who sell at very high prices on new and sophisticated palate boutiques in New York or Tokyo. The lunatics are to be noted. They claim the same. He sums Benjamin Romeo, a magician and wine business cachaça a gardener who, from scratch, has succeeded in developing in San Vicente de la Sonsierra some of the larger (and expensive) wines of La Rioja, as we stroll through the Andres vineyard inherited from his father and the starting point for 15 years of your project. Today exports 90% of its production. "Faced with globalization, our defense is quality, and that quality in Spain part of the tradition, takes the best of the heritage of our ancestors and develops and updates. Everyone knows that the Chinese can buy the best barrels French and plant the best varieties, but I can not carry this clay is, the fog, the Ebro, the Toloño Mountains. It belongs to us. And is our best marketing. "In his new winery in San Vicente, Benjamin has installed a bunch of cameras pointing in the direction of his vineyard and his people, "and maybe when I'm in Japan, I take the tablet, connect the cameras by remote control and teach them how it is, our grapes, the sky, the castle, where we came from and what the project. And understand. The Japanese are very sensitive to the pure: eat raw fish. "
Benjamin Romeo's opinion is shared by one of the most powerful men (and feared) of Spanish wine, Jorge Ordonez, founder of Fine Estates from Spain, a company based in Massachusetts that channels our best wines to the United States. Ordonez is also a seasoned tastemaker, a trendsetter, able to define how the wines should be to conquer the American critics. This was done with different brands emerged from his baton in forgotten corners of our country by the great Rioja wine monopolized for decades, as Toro, Jumilla or Campo de Borja: "The key to a good wine is the grape, and if the have, have good wine for decades. During years we started the best we had, our grape immemorial, foreign varieties and planted it seemed that was what the market asked. we get it wrong. Such wines generalist international grapes, make cheaper and better sell the New World through their corporations. The key to selling in North America is our diversity of grapes, landscapes and designations of origin (we have 70). For many consumers the New World are newcomers; know not put yourself on the map, and you have to put teaching, doing thousands of kilometers, scratch your pocket and explain to the distributors, store owners, critics, which took 3,000 years in this. And that the best tempranillo, grenache and carignan are here.'s what we presume. And then, quality, cleanliness, the best health checks, something we have not always done because there were selling in bulk and worth everything. " Quality is another key to success of wine with personality. This is confirmed in one sentence the old Isacín Muga, listisimo venerable winery president Haro's namesake: "When you cheat client only once."
The lunatics have returned to their roots. They are children and grandchildren of winemakers. They take care of their old vines as Japanese gardens where each strain has a name and is grown with mime hands of a bonsai. "How will I go, who then takes care of the vineyards? I do everything from plowing to prune, pick and bottle," says his barber's razor humor Emilio Rojo, an engineer who in 1986 broke with the capital and again Arnoia (Ourense), to the lands of their parents, to start a small vineyard ribeiro the best in history, of which only 5,000 bottles produced and the powerful are raffled. "You're in the vineyard all day, you know her as a daughter and interpret each year in a different way," notes Abel Mendoza, bearded, wise and crafty, one of the largest and honest craftsmen Rioja wine, a peculiar type and seconded by Maite always endearing, his wife, a exazafata that forced him to wear a new shirt before the visit of journalists. With the couple visited their vineyards Marrarte: "The winemaker is a simple manager what land he is giving, each vintage is a surprise. Every year is unpredictable. If it rains or it's hot, it gives you a different result. No repeat . Interpret. I never make a wine like another. This is an official sense. From long view. If you keep the environment, if you put junk, leave a better future to come. You have to respect the earth . Thinking long term, because short agobias you mess with the mortgage and a tractor and do a wine vulgar. And that's happening to people here: the great wineries grapes bad pay [one-tenth that ten years], ignores the farmer. No requirement. chance and I jumped out of the family business of growing and selling grapes to make my wine, bottle it and label it. 'Where does this', I said. now live it, I paid vacation and I have friends all over the world. And I want more. A bottle of wine has to be like a book to tell you in a few minutes the context, history, landscape, whodunit. Otherwise is boring. Failure inspires you, not buy it again. "
Madmen reject chemistry. Blockbusters. Lush plantations. Looking imperfection with guts. Use weapons of ecology and biodynamics. Aran with mules. Credited with cow poop. Hand pruned. They look at the sky. Prove grapes. They are guided by the movement of the stars. No hurry. They are unwilling to produce more to fill their pockets and ruin your future. Not occur to them to plant varieties and clones of rapid growth to line in the shortest time possible. That was the mistake of many wineries. Especially in the Ribera del Duero: double, triple, quadruple production during the bubble. "As one Moroccan who work with us, 'the rush kills, friend," said Carles Ortiz, who produced with his partner, Esther Nin, some of the new jewelry of the Priory. We climbed beside the slopes of Mas d'en Casa d'Or, its Paleolithic Porrera vineyards. We sense the valley floor we hit it Ebro in the Rioja with Benjamin and Abel. In this vineyard Carles and Esther, chemistry does not fit. His remedies against parasites and pests are based tisanes rainwater, chamomile, horsetail and dandelion. Just what is involved. This brings unparalleled wines. Esther is also winemaker at Clos Erasmus, one of the most legendary and sought after wines from that area. Carles pulling his mule and Esther carries in his chest to Roger, their son. Among the strains grow flowers, pears and quinces. Esther takes fruits, crushed and put in the baby's lips. "Roger will grow in the vineyard not have a caretaker, we preferred to hire someone else to grow it. Currently it seems more important."
Esther and Carles are part of the second generation of hippies of the Priory. The first came here in the early eighties and was formed by Rene Barbier, Alvaro Palacios, José Luis Pérez, Carles Pastrana and Daphne Glorian. The five brought fame to this region and jumped banking rankings of world wine guru, Bob Parker. This second generation wants to go further and provide more natural, the product freshness and ecology. They are friends. We demonstrate during a dinner in which two competitors of the new Priory, Esther and Dominik Huber, share wine, laughter and food service. Not everything is for sale.
Things have changed. Madmen winery no longer teach, teach the vineyard. Among strains in the farm Turo d'en Mota, in Sant Sadurní, breakfast with cousins and Josep Mata Ton, inheritors of cava Recaredo firm, who have conquered the critics with a sparkling American giver name this estate, costs 90 euros on the market and that Parker scored 96 points, never seen in the cellar. There is no better scenario for them that these strains ecological 1940. Materialize the earth cult.
Gone are the days of pitch. Wine show. Joined speculation and wine-estate bubble. There are hundreds of wineries for sale. Wine filled sac. Clone with other wineries for sale full of expensive wine and mediocre end. The pendulum has moved. It's not about making great wines from 100 euros, but great wines of 10 that allow you to make great wines limited edition of 100. Is envite: worthy wines at reasonable prices. Different and simple. Fresh and lighter. Risky. With less wood. To drink or to satisfy critics (at least, so they say).
This is wits. To woo a new generation of consumers now addicted to beer and spirits high ranking. In Spain they drink less wine than ever. Seventeen liters per capita. Half that of Italy or France. Half that in 2000. The fourth of 50 years ago. Madmen know the vineyard. And they are determined to reach as many people as possible, and reveal the secrets of this gravel, lime or clay of small grapes, gathered and concentrated in compact clusters. Taken to the extreme. It is his obsession. They are unwilling to invest in bricks or wineries signed by star architects, have begun to borrow, in garages, on floors, in warehouses, with a couple of barrels, in an old printing press, as Laurent Corrio and Irene Alemany, a couple who met while studying oenology in Burgundy and since 1999 are revolutionizing Penedes reds even come to moonlighting to round the meager family budget. They do not want houses with coats of arms, but made with the finest vineyards forgotten. Territories covered with vines for centuries one day and they abused and neglected located, raised and replanted with grapes and then await original nature do the rest. It may take 35 years until they give a great wine. Patience is the first virtue that should adorn the winemaker. As said the Baroness Rothschild, one of the legendary names of French wine: "Once you've been 300 years in this, and everything is shot."
"We have taken decades to learn that the wine is made in the vineyard and in the winery," was the first thing I said in Boston Juan Muga, 38, third generation Mugas front Rioja brand to which named his surname. Muga, one of the traditional Rioja wineries, producing two million bottles a year, has not succumbed to the temptation to produce industrially. It has preferred to invest and dig in the vineyard. And give a twist to the prestige of its procedures. Since manufacturing its own oak barrels, a trade that was missing, until all wood aging and control every grape that comes into your cellar. The result is a quality wine, midway of modernity and tradition, which transmitted to the world through exporting million bottles each year. As gray suit, good English, as an appendix a drink from his hand, Juan Muga was busy in our meeting in Boston explain their project to the American fans. The same was done in the previous days in Chicago, Las Vegas and Austin, and before going to Brazil in a continuous pilgrimage trade. "In Texas I was in a big supermarket, the Central Market, people with your shopping and I served and speaking of Rioja wine. In Spain not have done, but in America ... must lose the shame us we exported the 30% two years ago and now we are at 50%. need to travel, test, learn, compare, learn. Just what we've never done. " Madmen wine are clear that while acting locally, its field must be global. They are willing to go further with that considered the best wine of our history.
They know that the key is to convey a message in each bottle. Being a locomotive picture. Pull the rest of the industry (as they do in Bordeaux's five most legendary brands in Italy or supertoscanos who wrap themselves in the popular imagination worldwide to thousands of French and Italian wineries humbler and much worse) and show a way: things can make a more clean, original and natural. Respecting the earth. And succeed. There are words Numanthia, one of the wineries born in the late nineties with that perspective Toro personality and quality Eguren family hands, was acquired in February 2008 by the LVMH Group, the global luxury aircraft carrier, by 36 million euros. It was the consecration of a way to make things right. In the same direction, Vega Sicilia, the evergreen myth of Spanish wine, has allied with the Rothschild family, the nobility of Bordeaux, to acquire good vineyards in La Rioja at whatever cost to hoard more than 100 hectares. With these great Rioja wines develop over the next decade. Both financial transactions are a vote of confidence in our land.
What is the capital of Spanish wine. Insane So treat the earth as a living being. The listen and whisper. Each strain is an individual. Each bottle, a love story. So Telmo Rodríguez, one of these processors sometimes misunderstood and dismissed as eccentric, balanced precariously on the steep terraces of the vineyard The Falcoeira, near Santa Cruz, in the province of Ourense, on Bibei river, a solitary spot unique, with oaks, fruit trees, ferns and granite walls, boars and birds, a biblical seduction, stir hypnotized mane and mutters: "Now I have put all this beauty in a bottle of wine." That's the secret. The summary of his philosophy. His dream for two decades. Never has dismounted from his principles.
Telmo met 15 years ago. And it has not changed a comma philosophy with which wine was launched into the ring in the mid-nineties with the aim of recovering unique vineyards in different regions of Spain, abandoned or crushed by modernity, give them back the way they were a century ago using viticultural traditions of the area, and make a wine that is a true reflection of its history and ecosystem. Diving at breakneck even losing money to extract from each vineyard the wine improved. Undertook this project with Paul Eguzkiza crazy, whom he met when both were studying oenology in Bordeaux in 1994, and has worked to open grave in Malaga, Rioja, Ribera, Rueda, Cebreros, Alicante and Galicia. It has become rich. There were times I could have left everything and have opted for the surf and contemporary art. The reason given time. And confirms that it was the first to make sure things could be done differently. And the result would necessarily be good for everyone. That land was the great wealth behind a bottle of wine. He has traveled around the world talking about Spain. Media, and outspoken extremist, ongoing reviews pouring in against industrial processes that were taking place in the wine industry to produce more at the expense of image quality and earned him the mid-nineties, the nickname "The fool of La Rioja" by some of his peers. At that time it was easier and more profitable to bet on the quantity than quality. After that romp, journalist COUNTRY Fidalgo Feliciano threw a cloak with an article entitled The smartest dumb La Rioja. Ningunearle Today nobody dares. Ascender with him alone into the vineyard The Falcoeira, who has worked in a decade and which has rebuilt walls of Roman origin, or The Beatas, a wild vine and lost in La Rioja, is the living example of the magic of wine Spanish which aims to develop and publicize.
After traveling 3,000 miles by Spain in their search, the mad wine show that things are not what they were. We have taken a step forward. After kicking dozens of vineyards, one encounters situations that break the old clichés of our wines: a cava, Recaredo that surpasses in quality and price to the great champagnes, a Ribeiro, Emilio Rojo, rivaling the white Burgundies; a Rioja, Contador, more expensive than the best Bordeaux, a red wine from the Rias Baixas, the Goliardo, Rodrigo Mendez made in this land of white in tandem with Mrs. Lola, an octogenarian Salnés in Pontevedra, who does not want their vines disappear, a luxury winemaker, Joan Assens, who has renounced the Priory stardom and chosen to focus on its draft red small-large farm in the Montsant, under the brand Orto, a recuperator, Telmo Rodriguez, who has resurrected the reviled sweet wines of Malaga and dying Cebreros reds. A cooperative, Capçanes, in the county of Falset, under the direction of Francesc Blanch is making wines huge, unthinkable in other cooperatives, and giving a future worthy to 82 families. Or that kid from a small grocery store in the Barcelona purebred, Quim Vila, from that family business has grown to be the number one moving the most interesting Spanish wines in the world.
This journey began in the Bierzo. Ends here. Maybe it's the example of all. A wine territory forgotten, discredited and famous for its wines and bulk nameless. But with different grapes and centenarians. In 1999 came to this land forgotten Alvaro Palacios, the greatest genius of the Priory, sought vineyards and lit the fuse. Behind his nephew Ricardo come with an ecology in the extreme. The poorly received. They had thrown the seed. The most restless of place would collect. For example, Raul Perez, who was born here in Valtuille de Abajo. While eating sausages and pie with his parents, uncles and cousins, tell us how the family made wine since the eighteenth century. And the horrors of the Civil War. In 2005, Raul made the leap to excellence. Penniless. No winery. In six years he has succeeded in producing unique wines, sometimes in runs of less than 1,000 bottles, which have fallen in love with international criticism, beginning with Robert Parker, the high priest. Today is the witch of Bierzo. And has expanded its reach to the Ribeira Sacra, Monterrei, Rias Baixas and also South Africa, Chile and Portugal, where it yields minimal. Among friends, for pleasure. For Raúl Pérez, time does not count. Know that wine is eternal.