The harvest is in full swing and the neighborhood Station Haro, who should be called Wine district by the number of wineries that crowd their surroundings, walk in full swing. In one of the most unique, Muga, craft remains a redoubt, the last Cubero, the only person in Spain that manufactures tanks and just hand, and send the taxes to eye. A rule of thumb. That person is Jesus Azcárate Mora, who nicknamed El Navarro for the origin of his father, Jesus Azcárate Garde, with whom he started working in San Vicente de la Sonsierra in 1974 when he was 16. Now is 53. Theirs comes from generations. His father learned the trade from his father, Julian Mora, who had inherited from their ancestors. Now he wants amadrigar his second son, also named Jesus, who is beginning to have a good eye. The Azcárate manufactured tanks for various wineries in La Rioja and elsewhere, the first job was in the last cubero Jerez-up that technological progress was replaced by the more modern wood stainless steel. Today the wooden casks are almost relics, but allows them to achieve longevity centenary use.
Jesus Azcárate has manufactured more than 500 tanks between 1,000 and 64,000 liters in 36 years of business
The office of Cubero was then touched by death. Azcárate father had to close his shop cubería, although the son, probably by the Muga family effort to keep wooden tubs, stayed employed exclusively since 1987. And for 13 years, was installed as confidant and guardian of the house, where his wife, Nieves Diaz Medina, is in charge of the kitchen. "For me Isaac Muga was like a second father to tell him things he did not say to anyone," says Azcarate, an affable, discreet, that is completely devoted to his profession and has learned to be a good taster, probably because time spent by Isaac, who often leave the horseshoe round (Cooper Street Haro).
The last cubero feel proud of being a single original, but does not show it. "It is a hard job and as companies buy the vats and barrels in series, for it has no appeal," he admits. In Muga works with two carpenters and apprentice. Although the machinery is vital to handle a material that is very heavy, the work is manual and involves cutting the staves-prepared tables that form the wall of the barrel, and baked to give structure to the vessel, which according to the shape and size can be Cuba, tub or barrel.
A Azcárate likes to explain the differences, possibly cubero pride. The Cuba oval shaped and positioned horizontally, while the bath like a truncated cone. Both have a capacity exceeding one thousand liters. The barrels, meanwhile, are also oval, but with a standard volume of about 225 liters. The Navarro, who began making barrels when he joined Muga, affects the making vats and tubs are cuberos and making barrels, coopers. "Coopers many in Spain, both industrial and artisanal, but cuberías, no."
Although all the variants premium craft a rule of thumb, the ability is in the tubs and vats. The office, which has been perpetuated in the popular saying that means "about to score, but rather precisely", comes precisely from the skill with which the calculated cuberos "without any mathematical" the number of boards to close the circle . Therefore, there is always the same (in a barrel between 28 and 32) and have the same width. Then Azcárate says by rote the other wall parts (head, argayo, jerkin, barrigal) or funds (chantel, contrachantel, medium and contramediano). "I may not finish just as perfect as in industrial manufacturing, the important thing here is that we place the timber with your hands" spikes as invites to play to surprise the depth of the hurt of a tub of 54,000 liters. More or less, a span.
In the workshop Muga are manufactured around 700 barrels a year (another 700 outside handle, but with French oak buying Muga itself and allowed to dry in about two years) and a number of vats or tubs According renovation requirements. "A 20,000-liter vat can take us four weeks," says Azcarate. Next year, plans to build eight of 9,000 liters, but the workshop gives for making containers of between 2,000 and 54,000 liters. In the cellar there are 240 vats and barrels and 14,000 barrels. Azcárate has made in 36 years of occupation, more than 500 of the largest of which, according to their accounts, nearly 250 have been for Muga. His record, however, is in the five basins that produced 64,000 liters in 1977 to Lopez de Heredia on the occasion of the centenary of this winery when it was still independent.
Possibly the French oak wood vats Muga's secret. "A timber deposit must be maintained throughout the year, one of steel requires no such special treatment. Benefit We have sacrificed and image quality, the good thing about wood is that you let the wine breathe," says Isaac Muga, whose policy shared his brother Manuel, who died in 2007, and maintain their two children in one of the few brands that are still family. That, although the wine is less and less time in the tub. The production process and aging is increasingly mechanized, but the eye-envelope is reluctant to say goodbye. -
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