Stepping lightly along the edge of a deep ravine…

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…which has been my comfort zone in tinto terms given that in recent years I’ve rarely ventured beyond the sacred gorge of the Ribeira Sacra and the great holy cauldron of El Bierzo. Till last night. Whilst having dinner with some lovely friends who live in Galicia’s version of Tolkien’s Middangeard, an enchanted wild wood on the fringes of the Fragas de Eume, near Miño in Galicia, I was introduced to a seductive coupage by the name of Cartema. The winery is located in the Montes de Alamín, province of Toledo and part of the D.O. Méntrida appellation. The landscape is rolling hills dotted with ancient oaks. After carrying out exhaustive soil checks, they decided on Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah procured from the finest Bordeaux nurseries and the native Tempranillo which prosper well in the sandy soil known here as ‘suelos de aluvión’. Set up to process around 20,000kg of fruit, they have an ageing room with just twenty French oak barriques. Vinification of the three varieties is done separately, always with their respective native yeasts and strictly controlled fermentation temperature. Once the alcholic fermention is done, the wine is then transferred to the barriques for malolactic fermentation. After that the wine racked, leaving a fine layer of lees in the barrique. Once the wine has gone through ‘the necessary ageing period’, the winemaker decides on the final blend percentages. The wine we drank last night was Cartema Crianza 2007, ruby red with violet tinges. In the nose it’s spicy, with hints of rosemary, thyme and liquorish and rich red fruit. In the mouth it’s medium bodied, silky, slightly glycerine with the fruit standing out and delicate vanilla notes indicating complete harmony with the wood. This is a great wine. Open it and stick it in the fridge for fifteen minutes before serving it and ignore the dullards that scream sacrilege at the mere suggestion. 

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ALL FOR A GOOD CAUSE…

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The Cantabrian Sea in Spain covers a huge area from the Basque Country bordering France, heading west through Cantabria, Asturias and finally Galicia, where it collides head on with the Atlantic Ocean at beautiful Estaca de Bares. In the English speaking world we loosely refer to this sea as the Bay of Biscay, an English rendering of the Basque word Bizkaia or Vizcaya in Spanish. The artesanal fishing fleets along this coast specialise in line-caught Hake, Bonito or Albacore Tuna and more famously, Anchoa or Anchovy. Long considered by Spaniards to be one of the great gourmet dishes in Spain, the anchovies are filleted and then preserved in three ways, en salazón (salt), ahumadas (smoked) or in extra virgin olive oil. They are only slightly salty, quite firm texture wise (the Spanish use the wonderful word terse), and index-finger sized, nothing at all like the tiny, wormlike, swig of a salt cellar things you find strewn on pizzas, at least in the UK. Product transformation or sobado is done entirely by hand, hence the rather elevated price, a 180gr can or jar will cost around 20 to 30€ or more. Now on to the good cause bit. A Cantabrian company by the name of Cantabria En Tu Boca (Cantabria In Your Mouth) has come up with a unique way of easing the burden on those suffering from the consequences of the economic crisis that has been blighting the country over the last few years. Their recruitment policy is centred exclusively on people over 50 who are currently out of work and have had their benefits curtailed. In addition, 100% of the company’s profits are channelled into the same cause. Right now this service is totally unique in Europe in that nobody is offering top quality, own-brand gourmet products to the public in such a charitable way. They also plan to start similar ventures abroad once they establish a decent online presence. So who knows? Solidarity via fabulous gourmet foods from Cantabria could be happening in your town pretty soon. Round of applause. You can learn more about them here: wwww.cantabriaentuboca.net

Emilio Rojo – one of Spain’s most sought after white wines.

Emilio Rojo in his vineyard.  Adapted from an article by Xurxo Lobato/Omayra Lista published by El País on July 1st 2013. I have taken a few liberties with the translation.     

“La crisis no da en el blanco” – this headline, and quite a cryptic one for El País, a Spanish newspaper, can mean two things – that the economic crisis is not hitting the target, whatever the target is, or that the economic hecatomb gripping the country for the last four years or so is not really affecting the sales of white wine, at least not the one that Emilio Rojo makes.
Emilio Rojo’s D.O. Ribeiro wine is extremely sought after around the world. Around 5,000-6,000 bottles are sold long before they’re ready to be launched onto the market. The key to this enviable success is a ‘policy of cutbacks’ wisely applied to his vines: reducing production in order to obtain an optimum quality wine. The scarcity of the wine stimulates the obsession of the high end consumer intent on getting his or her hands on a bottle or two. Loyal customers have included the arch-famous El Bulli, Arzak and the King Juan Carlos I of Spain. Emilio Rojo diehards won’t even be able to taste it this year as the 2012 vintage won’t be available for purchase till next year. Not content with making just a great, great wine, he wants it to ‘grow up’, to ‘purge itself of the sins of youth’ during its time in the cellar.
Freeing oneself from the ‘dictatorship of time’, i.e. the local consumer preference for drinking white wines young, is a serious challenge for Galician winemakers. Casting aside oak barrel ageing, ‘sur lies’ fermentation and ‘bâtonnage’ seems to be the direction Galician white wine making will take in the future. In fact, notable D.O. Rías Baixas wineries such as Pazo de Señoráns, Pazo de Fefiñanes and Martín Codax already apply this process to their wines.
‘Lies’, or lees in English, are the yeasts responsible for alcoholic fermentation. They undergo a decomposition process in the bottom of the fermentation vats. In layman’s terms, these yeast deposits have to be stirred (bâtonnage) from time to time so they release a series of compounds which will improve the characteristics of the wine. According Galician wine guru Luís Paadín, “The yeasts reduce the oxygen level, thereby preventing oxidation so the wine keeps much longer”. The goal is that the wine holds up well in the bottle and can be consumed beyond three years, at the same time improving the bouquet and achieving a wine with more body. Every ten days, Emilio stirs the lees with a chestnut wood stick so that they settle evenly and create an infusion, conveying their rich properties to the wine. “A period of sixteen months sur lies enhances the wine giving it the character of a Vino de Pago or single estate/cru wine”, Emilio Rojo explains.
It’s the finishing touch inside the winery of a ribeiro that has been pampered right from its time on the vine. On an Atlantic climate, east facing slope, Emilio Rojo’s vines are almost as scarcely populated as the nearby deserted village of Ibedo, which is just the way he likes it, low on fruit but high on flavour. With his worn, calloused hands, this former telecommunications engineer, a combination of farmer and delicate wine whisperer, thins out branches, snipping away at bunches to obtain better grapes. He could easily make 10.000 litres of standard quality wine but prefers to sacrifice quantity for quality. “I’m a perfectionist, not an elitist”, he states. The rest is an alchemic blend of native grape varietals: treixadura – around 65% – with loureiro, lado and albariño. It’s a success formula that has this ribeiro rubbing shoulders with the most famous white wines in the world. A wine that’s served not only in the best restaurants in Spain (and that’s saying a hell of a lot), but also in the finest eateries of the USA, Japan, the UK and Denmark.
Paradoxically, the combination of shrewd ‘cutbacks’ in the vineyard and a captive export market have enabled this ingenious winemaker to ride out the storm currently battering many of his compatriots.

Xurxo Lobato from Galicia is one of Spain’s premier photo-journalists. You can view his work here: http://www.xurxolobato.es
                                                                                                                                

Demencia, Alzeimer and Pyjama

20121127_020Nacho León is a visionary. His Demencia de Autor wine is fast gaining devotees around the world, yet the guy works out of a rented warehouse near Villafranca del Bierzo. People have been making wine here in El Bierzo since Roman times and more or less continually since the 9th century. It’s the last stop before the Camino de Santiago climbs tortuously into the Galician mountains. Ailing, weather beaten, God-fearing pilgrims passed through the 12th century ‘Pardoning Gate’ here in order to receive absolution from the local priest before continuing on the most arduous stage of the journey, conscious of the fact that between Villafranca and Compostela, death, either from exposure to the elements, wolves or brigands, could come tracking them down at any moment.  I’m convinced the telluric energy and power of the land, coupled with its ancient traditions, are transmitted through the earth and into the vines here. I’m digressing. A visit to Demencia de Autor a couple of weeks back fulfilled a dream and this man is a dream seller, a wine whisperer even, according to my friend Shannon. Pyjama, he told me, was the stuff of dreams… the way we walk around the house in our pyjamas and dressing gowns, those intimate family moments, not a care in the world, very typical of the people round here, El Bierzo. An intimate wine you’d love to share with the family, that’s the concept behind it, he mused. Who could possibly disagree? Alzeimer, a solidarity wine launched a month or so ago, is a fabulous gesture. At 20.00EUR a bottle, the proceeds go to the Asociación de Familiares de Alzeimer, a Spanish charity set up to help families cope with this devastating condition. And finally, Demencia de Autor. Why the name? Nacho believes the word Demencia is associated with the improbable, a slight mental disorder, but full of ingenuity and brilliance. That’s what our wine is about, he enthuses.  It’s a young project, created and developed by young people who have one thing in common, they all love wine madly. We’re all demented then. I’ll be going back to El Bierzo in July, with or without my pyjamas and dressing gown.

http://www.debierzo.com/  http://www.demenciawine.com/

Restaurante Acio – Santiago de Compostela.

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Meet Iago Castrillón and Eva Pizarro, joint owners of Restaurante Acio in Santiago de Compostela, winners of the 1st prize in the “Revelation Restaurant” category at the prestigious gastro show Madrid Fusion 2013. The jury, made up of more than forty representatives from the Spanish gastronomic press, placed their votes in absolute secrecy. This year, for the first time, 2nd and 3rd prizes were awarded to Abadía Retuerta of Valladolid and Apicius of Valencia respectively. Congratulations are order.

Adrian: How did it all begin for you at Restaurante Acio?

Eva: We’ve always worked at high-end restaurants. While on holiday in Italy once, a dining experience we had one evening had a huge impact on us. The cook was working alone in the kitchen, calmly preparing dishes. Lamb was roasting slowly in the fireplace. Dinner that night was fabulous, most of all because the cook himself came out of the kitchen to serve us a few of the dishes he’d prepared.

Iago: It changed our perspective a little and we started thinking about having our own restaurant, for the both of us where we’d cook the food ourselves, provide a calm, unhurried service and actually enjoy doing something we like… away from haute cuisine where you have predetermined roles and a brutal pace of work. So this idea gradually began to take form till it became Acio, our restaurant, where little by little we’ve built a reputation for our cooking, unhurriedly, at our own pace, maintaining our philosophy.  The awards and recognition came later, which came as a real boost enabling us to keep doing what we were already doing, without going crazy in the process. 

Iago, tell us something about your experiences as a chef in Madrid and London and why they were so important to you in terms of your current success.

My time at these restaurants provided me with the basis of the cooking I’m developing today at Acio.  At each restaurant, in each city, in each place I’ve spent time in, I’ve tried to absorb trends, ways of doing things, and of course, learn from the great chefs I’ve had the privilege of being trained by.

Adrian: A lot has been said in recent years about the concept of time and space, championed by people like René Redzepi, owner of NOMA in Copenhagen, until very recently the Nº1 restaurant in the world. What’s your opinion on these particular trends?

Iago: In the last few years it seems as if every restaurant has had to identify itself with one particular trend, or alternatively differentiate itself from that trend in order to have some kind of identity. I think that as chefs each of us has his or her own vision of cooking and he or she translates that vision into a set of ideas or trends that people will either identify themselves with or not. 

Adrian: How do you select the ingredients you use in your cooking?

Eva: The essence of our cooking is based on Galician produce. Galicia is a magnificent, natural pantry of high quality food products.  Iago goes to the Plaza de Abastos every day, the great market in Santiago de Compostela, and selects the ingredients he’ll use in his kitchen, placing great emphasis on seasonal items.  

Iago: Having said that, we don’t rule out the idea of fusion so you’ll find Japanese products, for example, adapted to our dishes, rice dishes…

Adrian: How important are the local farmers when supplying your restaurant?

Iago: They’re the ones who guarantee the supply of seasonal products, the freshest ones, the ones that are in their prime.  In order to achieve that, it has to be a two-way thing. You have to tell the producer what type of product you’re looking for and get him involved in your ‘cause’ so he comes up with the goods.

Adrian: Eva, what’s your opinion on natural wines?

Eva: Natural wine is wine made from the natural grape, neither adding nor removing anything from that grape. The net result will be a true reflection of the land the wine was ‘born in’. Using that definition of natural wine as a starting point and the commitment to environmentally sound growing methods, respect for the environment itself, the grower as the ‘author’, authenticity and singularity… I believe it’s the future of wine if we want unique wines that represent the terroir that produces them. In short, if we want wines to inspire and excite us.

Adrian: Do you have any one day of the week reserved for ‘special sessions’ as in other vanguard restaurants?

Eva: We don’t set aside a specific day of the week, but we do organize wine tastings, winery presentations and wine pairing dinners. It’s something extra that our customers enjoy and appreciate.  

Adrian: Since the closure of El Bulli, the world of what some people call ‘molecular cooking’ has evolved substantially. Where does Acio situate itself amid all this change, new trends etc?

Iago:  We do what we do, our cooking, the way we like it, the one we believe in. We don’t follow any kind of trend, we simply do what we think is best in any given moment. This means that at times you do traditional recipes that happen to sit comfortably on the menu with the very latest gastronomic techniques.

Adrian: On one occasion, Ferrán Adrià was asked if he ever ate ‘normally’.  What are your favorite ‘everyday’ dishes?

Iago: I love my mother’s cooking, traditional Galician cooking, with its slowly cooked stews: el cocido gallego, with ‘all the splendor of the pig’, los callos… Traditional, home cooked food, made with all the love and affection of our mothers.  

Adrian: Do you ever get customers that simply don’t ‘get’ your cooking, however much you try to explain it to them?

Eva: Normally the people that come to Acio already know something about us and our cooking. They know it’s a safe bet, a sure thing, though a very personal one. They tend to go with the flow and allow us to show them what we can do.

Adrian: Do you see yourselves opening a restaurant outside Galicia or Spain?

Iago: You never know. Right now, it’s ‘poco a poco’, the way we always wanted it to be. Taking short steps, but positive ones.

Of Sea Lamprey, risk premiums and toxic banking…

With the opening of the Galician Sea-Lamprey Season 2013 just around the corner on January 15th, I thought it only right and fitting that I talked to Nito Calviño of Casa Calviño in As Neves (Pontevedra), one of the ‘consecrated temples’ of Sea-Lamprey cuisine on Galicia’s River Miño. I have to admit that the first time I went to Casa Calviño I wasn’t exactly sure what I was letting myself in for. I was doing some research for a gastronomic piece which was later published in Living Spain Magazine, at the time the definitive journal on Spain and all things Spanish.

The very idea of tucking into what is essentially a parasitical fish with a hideous blood-sucking mouth, cooked Bordelaise style, i.e. in its own blood, albeit with the addition of red wine and some distinctly medieval spicing, seemed a little daunting. Little did I know at the time I would be transformed overnight into a total Sea-Lamprey nut, compelled to seek her out (she’s grammatically feminine in Spanish) at least three times a season, which runs from the beginning of January to the end of April.

As Neves is a pretty little village nestling in the hills that overlook the majestic River Miño and Portugal, it was in this idyllic setting that Casa Calviño’s host Nito Calviño spared me a few minutes to talk about his passion for Petromyzon Marinus or Sea Lamprey.

Adrian McManus: What are your expectations for the coming season, taking into the critically low water levels of last season and the bleak economic situation right now in Spain?

Nito Calviño: In spite of last year’s poor catches, the prospects for the coming 2013 season are looking very good, due mainly to all the rainfall we’ve had so far this month. The ban on the extraction of sand from the river bottom, introduced in 1999, has also gone a long way in improving annual catches. Given the fact that lamprey and other species lay their eggs in the sand, dredging and extraction had a catastrophic effect on their reproduction cycles. Regarding the grim economic situation the country finds itself in, we sincerely hope our clients will grasp the opportunity to come and enjoy a dish that can only be eaten for the first four months of the year. As front of house manager of the restaurant, I can assure you we’ll rise to the occasion and strive to ensure our prices are competitive.

AM: Casa Calviño has a long history. Where did it all begin for you?

NC: Casa Calviño was founded in 1935. I actually belong to the third generation of this family business. In 1935 it was a ‘tasca’ or simple village bar where my grandfather sold the typical tapas of the day and the local Rubiós wine, which of course is very well known today and absolutely perfect for pairing with lamprey. The second generation began to specialise more exclusively in the lamprey area and during the 1980s the business really took off with the house undergoing considerable structural change, but also introducing the necessary culinary developments along the way.

AM: Apart from the classic Bordelaise style, featuring freshly caught Sea-Lamprey, how else do you serve it?

NC: Basically, we prepare lamprey in three different ways: Firstly, in the classic Bordelaise style i.e.  braising it in its own blood in an earthenware dish, served with boiled rice and crutons. Secondly, we offer stuffed and rolled lamprey, which contains good cured ham, hard-boiled egg and ‘piquillo’ peppers. Finally, there’s smoked lamprey which we grill ‘a la brasa’ or over charcoal and wood.

AM: What wines pair well with Sea-Lamprey?

NC: As I mentioned previously, the local Rubiós wine, a young, fruity red and made from a local grape variety is highly recommended as is the excellent Mencía red from the Ribeira Sacra appellation located upstream from us.

AM: Are there any other house specialities you serve if fear and loathing of ‘the beast’ gets the better of your customers?

NC: One of the most popular dishes is our ‘cabrito lechal’ or roast suckling goat which we serve either roasted or in the form of fried ribs that we call ‘costilletas’. You can also order our other house special ‘callos’, a classic, spicy stew made with tripe, chickpeas, shin of beef and homemade chorizoFor fish lovers our menu also features locally caught produce from the Galician rías or estuaries and some of the best veal and beef in Spain.  

AM: Well it goes without saying that you’ll be seeing me quite soon, so I’d just like to wish you all, and especially Doña Maruxa, the ‘jefa’ and heart and soul of the operation, a very happy Christmas and New Year. Is there anything you’d like to add?

NC: Only that the lamprey season will begin on January 1st and run through to the 30th of April and that we look forward to seeing our friends, old and new. Have a very happy Christmas and a better 2013.

 

Albarín Blanco and heroic winemaking.

Anyone heard of CERVIM? I hadn’t till today. I happened to come across the name whilst googling ‘Albarín Blanco’, an endangered grape variety native to Asturias and León in the north of Spain. The organisation was founded in Italy in 1987 and its noble mission, the research, protection and advancement of mountain viticulture, known in European viticulture as ‘heroic winemaking’. So what qualifies you as a heroic winemaker? Mainly the following: terraced slopes featuring gradients of 30% or more, orographic conditions definitely not condusive to any form of mechanisation, above sea level altitudes of over 1,640 feet and viticulture on small islands. Every year CERVIM organises a three day event in Aosta Italy where a team of twenty four professional tasters and six wine industry journalists taste a total of over 600 entries from 12 European countries, exclusively from mountainous areas. This year, a total of 2 ‘double gold’ medals, 44 gold medals and 135 silver medals were awarded. One of those golds went to a beautiful winery in Asturias, northern Spain. Bodegas Monasterio de Corias is set in a former Benedictine abbey that dates back to the 11th century. Gold medal winner Viña Grandiella is a blend of Albarín Blanco, Small Grain Moscatel and Albillo. Albarín Blanco, the signature grape in this blend, is apparently in grave danger of extinction. It is noted for its intense greenish-yellow colour, strong moscatel flavour, and relatively high alcohol content. Viña Grandiella was the only Spanish wine to be awarded a distinction at the 20th International Mountain Wine Competition, a splendid achievement for this particular appellation, ‘Vinos de Calidad de Cangas’. Well done guys! Tasting notes in Spanish report the following: white fruit, apricot, peach, ‘parma violets’ and fennel on the nose. In the mouth, sparkling acidity, crunchiness, unctuousness and creaminess with stone fruits, ripe bananas, fresh green apple and roast coffee on the long finish. So what would you pair a Viña Grandiella and other Albarín Blancos with? Ideal pairings, I’m told, would be with fish, shellfish, pastas dishes, paellas and risottos. With production limited to only 6,600 bottles, the chances of finding Viña Grandiella in your local wineshop are probably quite remote, but what better excuse do we have for planning our next trip to Asturias? The gorgeous Cangas de Narcea Wine Route awaits us folks. LINKS. http://vinotierracangas.wordpress.com http://www.rutadelvinodecangas.com/index.php http://josepastorselections.com *US importer of wines from Bodegas Monasterio de Corias .

A level playing field for hybrid winemakers?

If anybody is planning to visit Galicia in the coming months and wants to experience the age-old tradition of drinking red country wine from a white porcelain bowl (CUNCA), don’t forget to order a bottle of ‘TINTO BARRANTES’. The European Union, in its infinite wisdom, has banned the growing of the hybrid grape (HDP) used to make this tannin rich, gum staining wine. Those that refused to destroy their vineyards doggedly continue to make their wines for local and not so local (Madrid) consumption, but are not allowed to label the bottles. The local government (XUNTA DE GALICIA) enforces this absurd decree with fundamentalist zeal. However, in Rheinhessen Germany they’ve been selling what appears to be an HDP wine called REGENT since the 1960s. Are German winemakers above the law then? Interestingly, this same beurocratic battle is being fought in the UK, where many of our now 400+ vineyards have planted the French HDP Seyval Blanc, producing quality white wines from it, even though the ever vigilant zealots in Brussels are hell-bent on stamping it out. To the barricades ladies and gentlemen!!

BARRANTES WINE FESTIVAL

Only eight weeks to go to this year’s Festa do Tinto do Salnés in Barrantes, an exaltation of the famous Tinto do Salnés or Tinto de Barrantes. This exceedingly fruity wine is a deep violet tinged, blackcurrant red colour, and quite tart on the palate. Drunk from traditional white porcelain bowls or cuncas, its teeth, gum and lip staining qualities earn it the name of manchamorros or pintalabios (lipstick), enflaming the passions of simple country folk for decades and winning over sophisticated wine gurus in more recent times. Tinto do Salnés is made from the grapes of hybrid vines, often referred to by local growers as Folla Redonda (Round Leaf). They were planted in the late 19th century and early 20th century in the wake of the catastrophic destruction caused by the phylloxera beetle, ‘imported’ from America in the 1870s. After a day tasting some incredible Albariño with Todd Blomberg of Benito Santos Winery in Vilanova de Arousa and Honorio Noya of the Veiga Serantes Winery in Ribadumia-Barrantes, we felt that the day wouldn’t be complete without relishing a few cuncas of Tinto Barrantes over an excellent ‘homage’ of ‘pulpo á feira’ and sargo (white bream) at Restaurante Tío Benito, a venerable institution whose patrons range from the humble to the rich and famous. Our wine tour guests on this occasion were Addison and Rachel Morphy who both work for notable wineries in Santa Cruz California (The Bonny Doon Vineyard and Sones Cellars). They described the wine as awesomely fruity and a definite joy to quaff. More about the festival. During the month of May, a team of professional tasters visit tiny vineyards and ‘furanchos’ like ‘O Manco’ and ‘Berto O Serradeiro’. ‘Furanchos’ are family homes uniquely licenced to open their doors for a limited period of time in order to sell the wines they make mainly for their own consumption and are usually served up with simple fare such as cheese, ham, tinned cockles, sardines, pickled clams, queen scallops in spicy sauce, pickled mussels etc. They are superb places to get to know the local folk and are sometimes located in lovely centuries old stone cottages and are totally unpretentious and very often absurdly cheap. So how does one find them? Look out for signs that say ‘Se Vende Vino de Cosecha Propia’ and a few bay/laurel tree branches hanging upside down from the garage door or outer wall. Back to the festival. The best wines of the vintage are painstakingly narrowed down from around two hundred and fifty entries to just three and duly awarded gold, silver and bronze medals. These are presented to the proud winemakers at the Confraternal Lunch held on the final day of the festival. This most ‘jolgorious’ event (boozy) is held in the Carballeira de Barrantes where the cosecheros (winemakers) have their stands, with live music and as always in Galicia, stands that sell the omnipresent ‘pulpo a féira’ (octopus) and ’empanada’ (a kind of pie), which are as Galician as the strolling pipers you’ll see over the weekend. Those that fancy some sophisto Albariño tasting amidst all the tinto de barrantes can contact the genial Honorio Noya at Veiga Serantes, which is signposted and just a close walk from the town. http://www.veigaserantes.com Photo: Lunching at Tío Benito, Barrantes.

VEIGA SERANTES – HONORIO NOYA

A talk with Honorio Noya, our contact at Veiga Serantes, an excellent winery from Galicia’s Rías Baixas appellation and located in the Salnés Valley town of Barrantes. Tell me about Veiga Serantes and your role in its wine. Veiga Serantes is a small family winery, housed in a lovely, modern building that blends in perfectly with its surroundings, set in the very heart of the Salnés Valley (Rías Baixas), near the village of Barrantes. The Serantes family have been growing grapes and making wines for many generations, and it is this tradition and knowhow that the winery strives to reflect in its winemaking today. By paying special attention to our viticulture, it is our belief that in order to make a good, natural wine one needs the best possible grapes. The whole process, from the vineyard to market place is carried out by three people; Luis and Rafael Serantes and me. I am involved in the whole process, from helping out during pruning, canopy management and grape harvesting, through to winemaking, bottling, packaging and sales and marketing. In doing this, I can keep an eye on every stage of the process, thus acquiring a sound knowledge of the wines we make. What are the main characteristics of your wine? Our wines, Veiga Serantes and Veiga Serantes Selection, are wines that reflect the native grape variety Albariño, highly aromatic with citrus and stone fruit at the very front, and white flowers such as orange blossom on the second level, with clear mineral notes from the granite based soils of our vineyards. In the mouth it reveals a touch of lively acidity from the microclimate of the Rías Baixas region. Our wines are well assembled, round and balanced due to the fact that we take the time for them to become well integrated, this also makes them longer lasting, so they can be enjoyed even 7 to 10 years later. What kind of consumers are you aiming your product at? Our wines are mainly aimed at ‘mature’ wine drinkers, by this I mean people that drink wine regularly, people who know their stuff and are looking for wines with a typicité that truly reflects the special characteristics of the region they come from. What about exports? At this very moment we are exporting 30% of our wines, with the main markets being USA and Puerto Rico, among others like UK, China and Switzerland. What about product innovation at Veiga Serantes? Regarding winemaking we prefer to stick to the traditional old style methods, happy with the wine we have been making for many years now. So innovation at Veiga Serantes is more on the packaging and labeling side, always striving to communicate the philosophy of the winery in this particular area. What is your opinion of so-called vanguard wine making? It’s a big world out there with lots of countries and every country with its own different market segments, with plenty of wine expectations, which means there’s room for lots of different styles of wines. Personally speaking, I much prefer wines that reflect the true character of a region, wine with a clear identity. However, as a wine lover I also like to try something different, something that might surprise me and even please me, from time to time. So in short, I’m very glad that there are winemakers out there making wines in this challenging, innovative way. There are different occasions to enjoy different styles of wine. Contact: http://www.veigaserantes.com