Rioja is probably Spain's most famous wine region, best known for its oak aged red wines. But Rioja is more than a classic wine of style, it can also be wine of place, coming from 144 different villages divided in 3 large subzones, including some of the best terroirs in the word.
Join us for a deep dive in the three Rioja subregions (Rioja Alta, Rioja Alavesa and Rioja Oriental) with 3 winemakers from each of the zones sharing their experience. They will discuss differences in climate, soils, grape varieties and wine styles and how Rioja is more than the sum of its parts.
Peter Arijs is the educational and global project manager for the DOCa Rioja. Peter holds a Ph.D. in engineering from Ghent University (Belgium) and has been working in wine education for several years. He obtained the WSET Diploma in 2020 with a distinction grade, for which he was awarded the Royal Tokaj Award. He is also a certified educator for the Spanish Wine Scholar program of Wine Scholar Guild.
Mayte Calvo de la Banda is the technical director of Bodegas Bilbainas since 2019. Born in Ezcaray (La Rioja, Spain), she has a degree in Chemistry and Oenology from the University of Rioja and was a professor at this university within the area of oenology. Her professional career has been consolidated in prestigious DOCa wineries and her extensive experience has positioned her as one of the most outstanding professionals in the area. In 2019, she arrived at Bodegas Bilbainas, accepting the challenge of maintaining the historical legacy of its brands and continuing to produce great wines up to the great vineyards and wineries in the municipality of Haro. According to Calvo de la Banda, "the wine must be understood from the vineyard, knowing how to interpret each variety, each plot and knowing how to maximize everything that nature gives us."
Tao Platon graduated in Enology from the University of Valladolid, obtaining the award from extraordinary academic merit. He is also WSET Diploma and second stage MW student. He has made wine in places as different as Bordeaux, Burgundy, New Zealand and the Spanish Duero, learning about different winemaking philosophies and techniques. On his travels, he developed a global perspective and a strong desire to contribute to a more authentic and sustainable world of wine. In 2016 he joined Península Vinicultores as head winemaker and technical director, where, among other projects, he leads the production of a new generation of terroir-driven wines from Rioja Alavesa at Bodega Bideona.
Javier Arizcuren is an architect, winery designer, master's degree in viticulture and oenology from the University of La Rioja and fifth generation of winegrowers in the municipality of Quel in Rioja Oriental. He took over the family vineyard in 2009, focusing on the recovery of the traditional varieties of the Sierra de Yerga. Since then, he has been carrying out important work to recover old vineyards while planting new plots of mazuelo, garnacha and graciano in the highest part of the municipality. In 2016, he opened his urban winery “Arizcuren” in the centre of the city of Logroño, where currently 25,000 bottles are produced, spread over more than 10 references.
Rick's Pick: University of Tarragona instructor and winemaker, Antoni Sanchez-Ortiz focuses on climate change and how viticulture must adapt in Spain’s DOQ Priorat region.
The mesoclimate determines climatic differences due to the topography of the Priorat and that give rise to local modifications or changes that can affect to more or less ample extensions. Factors that condition them include distance to the sea, altitude, orientation, exposure, and latitude. Between nearby municipalities, noticeable differences in temperature, precipitation, insolation and thermal amplitude can be seen, which affect the processes of growth, bud breaking, fruit formation, ripening and, ultimately, the composition of grapes. The prediction of an interval of concentrations of color and tannins would be of utmost importance to define qualities and styles of wine, given the great inter-parcel variability observed in plots of Grenache and Carignan vines within the Priorat DOQ.
Here is his bio, as narrated by Antoni:
I was born in December 4th, 1978 into a family with few financial resources in a small valley in the Spain’s Pyrenees. Although my parents never had the chance to go to school, I had some talent to study science and so continued my studies until college. After five years in college, I majored in analytical chemistry and more particularly to assess the degree of chemistry in the University of Barcelona. After I worked in corrosion of automobile engines and intercoolers using the Swaat Tecnique, at Frape Behr. Quickly I moved into the development of a GC-MS (gas chromatography-mass spectroscopy) methods to determine fatty acid composition from raw materials (mainly palm and coconut oil), where I worked at Henkel Düsseldorf plant in Germany for one year after obtaining a scholarship.
It was there almost by chance where I took a course of wine tasting and there began my interest in the discovery of quality wines. Consequently I fell in love with fine wines. In the following years, after studying enology within the University Rovira i Virgili in Tarragona (Spain) and the University Victor Segalen in Bordeaux. I graduated as a winemaker at 23 years of age. For 18 years now I have worked full time within the demanding context of producing world-class wines, both as a winemaker and as a viticulturist in the renowned appellation of Priorat,Spain. For many years I have also worked closely with the renowned French consulting enologist Claude Gross, and have travelled to California to study the Pinot Noir blending techniques of Sea Smoke Cellars, the acclaimed Pinot Noir producer near Santa Barbara, California. I like obtaining outstanding fine wines with a unique personality, making a superb red wine in the Priorat wine growing region, as an expression of varietal and site showcases the best which region’s true native character. Currently, with the consulting company I am also committed to producing one of the high-end, handmade organic olive oil in Spain’s Pyrennees. My conviction that great wine results from an intimate knowledge of the land arises from additional experience in vineyard management and climate warming studies as a PhD candidate with the Viticulture Department at the Faculty of Enology in Tarragona.
Ribera del Duero is an up-and-coming Spanish wine region, along the Duero River in central Spain. Its signature grape Tempranillo has found its place in high-altitude plateaus in this arid and demanding region. Vineyards are found throughout the valley between 750 and 1060 m shaping the style of wine. Local winemakers are carving a name for themselves in small rural communities totally off the beaten track.
Ribera del Duero wines are deep coloured, robust and powerful with an incredible ageing potential yet intrepid winemakers are adapting to world trends. There are some delicious easy drinking young wines on the market with even a white wine being added to the eclectic Ribera del Duero range.
Jeni Wilson an Australian/Scottish wine lover and English teacher arrived in the Ribera del Duero in 2001 and in 2004 opened her wine academy Vintage Class to teach English to the local wineries. She also became one of the first WSET centres in 2012 and now teaches the Spanish Wine Scholar and French Wine Scholar programs. A holder of the WSET 4 DipWSET and High Honours in Spanish Wine Scholar, she is passionate about her local area Ribera del Duero where she has formed close relationships with local winemakers over many a glass of Ribera del Duero wine. She is a passionate Spanish wine lover and will happily travel all over Spain and the world visiting wineries as the learning curve never stops.
Spain began linking wine to “place” early on. As far back as the beginning of the 20th century, the need for wine regulations became self-evident. The country was experiencing rampant wine fraud; quality wines were being diluted with bulk wine on a regular basis.
Rioja was a leader in the charge for legislation to guarantee wine origin. In 1902, a Royal Decree defined the origin of its wines by establishing a geographical link between the name of a product and the place where it is produced. Just a little over two decades later, in 1926, the first Consejo Regulador (Regulating Council) was created in Rioja. In the years that followed, Jerez and Málaga also gained regional protection.
Harpers reports on the launch of the Spanish Wine Scholar study & certification program.
In this episode, we are chatting with Rick Fisher, Spanish Wine Scholar Education Director, about Sherry styles and getting a behind-the-scenes peek at the forthcoming Spanish Wine Scholar Program.
Spanish red wines get a lot of press for being good values, but shopping in the Spanish wine aisle can be as daunting if you aren’t sure what grows where within the world of Spanish wines.
Many of Spain’s best red wines are labeled with the name of the wine appellation, rarely by grape variety. At its most simplistic, Spain can be divided into three “bands” for red grape varieties and wines. The Tempranillo grape variety excels in wines from central and northern Spain, Garnacha in wines from northeastern Spain and Monastrell in southeastern Spanish wines.
If you’ve ever felt completely overwhelmed while browsing an Spanish wine section, knowing just a few key wine names will help keep your shopping trip focused and ensure that you have the perfect wine to drink at a moment’s notice.
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