martes, 15 de enero de 2013

Bodega y Viñedos Sierra Cantabria


Guillermo Eguren belongs lo a long line of Riojan vine growers. By the 1950s, he was already tending his own vines and making wine at San Vicente de la Sonsierra. Those were young carbonic-maeeration reds. as demanded by the locals and Rioja's traditional markets. In recent years. Eguren´s children Marcos and Miguel Angel (the sixth winemaking generation in the family) together with his son-in-law Jesús Sáez, have given Sierra Cantabria a new impetus. I nlike some Riojan bodegas that are the product ot a series of small leaps spanning a century, or others that have emerged recently from scratch, the Eguren family firm has followed its own path, starting with a solid base in the ever-growing family vineyards (a treasure that Guillermo has carefully looked after and steadily increased) and culminating in the renovation efforts of the 1980s and 1990s by his two children, especially Marcos, on whom winemaking responsibilities now rest.

Of the mamy different ventures started and still owned by the Eguren family. Sierra Cantabria is the mothership. It is certainly so in size but also in the number and variety of labels, both traditional (Murmuron a carbonically macerated, young red Crianza, Reserva, Gran Réserva), and avantgarde Rioja (Coleccion Privada, Amancio, Finca El Bosque, even Cuvée Especial, and Organza, a barrel-fermented white). It is nonetheless true that this coexistence is about to undergo a serious reorganization, and new facilities are being built to host the more ambitious modern-styled wines, sourced from the best vineyards, all of which arte grouped under Vinedos Sierra Cantabria. The designation Sierra Cantabria will remain for traditional wines still made in the original cellars in the heart of San Vicente de la Sonsierra.

The rationale for this decision has to do with Sierra Cantabria being the original brand name used by the Eguren family for their wines of the 1980s, which now cement the powerful and successful Eguren Group. Since then, the vineyards and cellars have been through many additions and transformations in the form of parallel ventures: Senorio de San Vicente and Viñedos de Páganos in Rioja; Numanthia-Termes (sold in 2008 to LVMH)and Teso La Monja in Toro; and Dominio do Eguren, produced as Vino de la Tierra de Castilla. While the group uses the Eguren name for its website, it is still somewhat striking that this the signature name by which most aficionados identify the house and its wines appears formally only on the humble wines of Dominio de Eguren (a label that seems to have a rather unexpected importance in the group´s prosperity). The reason is actually very simple: The Eguren brand name belongs to a branch of the family that is not willing to sell it.

The winemaker, Marcos Eguren, is one of the stars of Rioja winemaking who matured in the 1980s and 90s, but his temperament is not at all that of a star. Calm and kind, he shows the combination of shyness and determination of one who does not wish to attract public attention but is at the same time convinced ot the soundness ol his work. He is a man whose feet are firmly planted in the Riojan soil. But he is also a man of some courage, someone who was prepared to implement innovations at a lime when so-called modernity was a risky bet. This formula has been the key to the Eguren family’s winemaking success.

Tempranillo is the main protagonist of these wines, with only minor concessions to Graciano and even fewer to Garnacha in the more traditional wines. Marcos explains: “In our Sierra Cantabria vineyards, only Graciano is occasionally, maybe once or twice every ten years,of sufficiently high quality to go into our Reserva or Gran Reserva; and even then it is only in a small proportion, because it is a very dominant sort of grape." In his opinion, Mazuelo and Garnacha do not work either in those cooler vineyards in the north of Rioja, which is why the monopoly of Tempranillo in his wines is not a random choice but rather is the result of natural selection in the local circumstances of climate and geology. On the other hand, he does think that some foreign varieties might succeed there “I wish I could plant some Pinot Noir, if only to satisfy my curiosity,” he says.


- D. O. Calificada Rioja
- Type: Young Red wine (carbonic maceration).
- Varieties: Tempranillo 100%.
- Origin of the Grapes: Vineyards: Propietary vineyards in San Vicente de la Sonsierra and Labastida. Average yield: 31 Hls./Hct.
- Date of harvest: Manual selection of the grapes on 1 and 2 october 2011. Second selection of the best quality bunches using a sorting table in the winery.
- Vinification: Carbonic Maceration during 11 days with light daily pump-overs (Whole bunches maceration, without pressing and de-stemming).
- Fermentation: Controlled temperature between 21 and 23° C.
- Winemaker: Marcos Eguren.
- Recomendations: Consumption: Serve at a temperature between 12 and 14°C (61 and 64°F).


- D.O. Calificada Rioja
- Type: White wine fermented and aged in barrel.
- Varieties: Viura (55%), Malvasía (25%) and Garnacha Blanca (20%).
- Origin of the Grapes: La Rioja. Average yield: 29 Hls/Hct. Environmental integrated agriculture cultivation. Date of harvest: 29 and 30 of September 2011. Manually selected clusters with further selection in the winery by means of a sorting table. Harvested in small boxes.
- Maceration: Cold soaked during 12 hours.
- Fermentation: Fermented in new French oak barrels (Vosgues area). Toasting type Burgundy Medium-High. Temperature controled between 14 and 16° C. Fermented with selected yeast (Sacharomyces Cerevisiae).
- Estimated ageing: 9 months estimated total ageing, on its own lees, with batonnage twice per week during the first six months.
- Winemaker: Marcos Eguren.

"2009 Organza Rioja Blanco ($30) (55% viura, 24% malvasia and 21% garnacha blanca): Bright gold. Aromas of candied ginger, poached pear, licorice, lees, and smoky oak. Sweet on entry, then taut and penetrating in the mind-palate, with very good dfinition to its orchard and citrus fruit flavors. There´s a buttery, toasty nuance here that reminds me of Meursault. Finishes chewy an tactile, with zesty minerality and lingering spiciness." International Wine Cellar.


- D.O. Calificada Rioja
- Type: Red barrel aged.
- Varieties: Tempranillo (100%) from vines older than 30 years.
- Origin of the Grapes: Vineyard: Proprietary vineyard in Labastida called La Liana. The vineyard is south east facing to maximize maximum sun exposure, and it situated 480 m on sandy loamy soils with gravel. Average yields for 2008: 34 Hls/Hct. Organic fertilization, environmental integrated agriculture cultivation. Exhaustive, manual harvesting of clusters with optimally health and ripe; further selection made in the winery using a sorting table.
Date of harvest: Second week of october 2008.
- Fermentation: Traditional elaboration, 100% destemmed. Temperature controlled fermentation between 28 and 30° C.
- Maceration: Pre-fermentative cold soak for 48 hours and maceration on the skins for 21 days.
Energetic pump-overs twice per day until the end of fermentation. During the maceration, the frequency of the pump-overs is reduced to avoid the extraction of vegetal and bitter characters.
- Malolactic Fermentation: In barrel.
- Estimated ageing: Barrel: 12 months in Bordelaise barrels of French oak (85%) and American oak (15%) since november 2008. Racked every four months. Bottled: unfiltered December 2011.
- Winemaker: Marcos Eguren.

"Sierra Cantabria, Cuvée, Rioja 2007 (13.8%) Soft ripe fruit aromas combined with violet notes, mocha, spice and a persistent vanilla wood finish. UK: £17; J&B, See. US: $24; USFES" Decanter.

"2008 Cuvee Especial Rioja ($29) (100% tempranillo): Deep ruby. An exotically perfumed bouquet evokes cherry-cola, raspberry and potpourr, with a spicy overlay. Juicy and sharply focused, with impressive depth to its sweet red fruit ans spicecake flavors. A decidedly suave and balanced wine that finishes on a bright, spicy note, with subtle tannic grip. 91" International WIne Cellar.


- D.O. Calificada Rioja
- Varieties: Tempranillo grapes (100%) of vines older than 50 years.
- Origin of the Grapes: Vineyard: Proprietary, Los Terreros and Jararte vineyards located in San Vicente de la Sonsierra, La Rioja; Average Yield: 25 Hls./Hct. Organic fertilization, environmental integrated agriculture cultivation. Strict hand picking of the bunches in perfect conditions of health and maturation. Second selection at the winery by means of a double sorting table.
Date of Harvest: 9 and 10 october 2010.
- Vinification: Traditional elaboration de-stemmed. Skin maceration: 16 days. Daily Pump-overs; energetic in the beginning with diminishing frequency in the final days.
Fermented with temperature controlled (23° C, 75.2° F).
- Malolactic Fermentation: in barrel.
- Estimated ageing: Barrel: 18 months in a different new French and Center- European Bordelaise barrel ("200% new barrel").
- Winemaker: Marcos Eguren.

"In the 1970s, Guillermo Eguren was already producing grandes reservas from carbonically macerated wines. Wines such as Sierra Cantabria GR 1970 and 1973 are virtually impossible to find today outside the family cellar, but they still give enormous pleasure to the lucky few who can sample them. Colección Privada is made following the same original concept, and the 2004 vintage is truly exceptional marked by an unlikely combination of jovial fruit, juicy acidity, and serious structure". Hugh Johsnon

"Sierra Cantabria, Coieccidn Privada, Rioja 2007 (14.3%). Modem style with bright red fruit leading to notes of cedar, mocha and vanilla. UK: £20; See. US: $44; USFES" Decanter.

"2009 Coleccion Privada Rioja ($54) (100% tempranillo): Bright purple. Seductively perfumed bouquet combines dark berry preserves, mocha, potpourri, vanilla and licorice. Broad, fleshy and smooth, with powerful blackberry and boysenberry flavors complicated by notes of candied anise and bitter chocolate. The silky, sweet finish shows excellent persistence and a note of candied flowers. 93" International Wine Cellar


- D.O. Calificada Rioja
- Varieties: Tempranillo 100%.
- Origin of the Grapes: Vineyard: Finca el Bosque, San Vicente de la Sonsierra. La Rioja; 1.4820 Hcts (3.66 acres). Soils ol calcareous clay; abundance of gravel and small founded stones on surface. Year of plantation: 1973. High density plantings on trellis.
Organic fertilization every 2 years. Environmental integrated agriculture cultivation.
Exhaustive hand harvested in boxes of perfectly healthy, ripe grapes. Average yield:
24.15 His/Ha, 3,500 kg/Ha.
Date of harvest: 14th October, 2010,
- Vinification: Destemed by hand with a rigorous selection of every grape. Cold pre-fermentative maceration at 8° C during 3 days.
- Fermentation: Fermented in French oak barrels at 28°C. Pressed twice a day during the first 8 days of fermentation and once a day during the last 5 days of fermentation
- Maceration: On the skins lor 18 days.
- Malolactic Fermentation: In new French and Centre European Bordelaise oak barrels.
- Estimated ageing: Barrel: 18 months lo indifferent new French and Center-European Bordelaise oak barrels (200% new barrel). Racking everv four months.
- Winemaker: Marcos Eguren.

"Together with Amancio, this is the flagship wine. It is sourced from a single Tempranillo vineyard near San Vicente de la Sonsierra planted in 1973. Originally it was conceived as a limited-release label for the subscribers of a wine club, but success soon led to continuity—save for the torrid 2003 vintage, in which none was made. For its timely combination of climate conditions and vineyard age, 2001 was the best year Marcos Eguren had seen, and for him it deserved special attention. Ten years after the vintage, the Finca El Bosque 2001 may seem restrained on opening, but it is a great wine that deserves long decanting to reveal spectacular aromatics, with excellent fruit and elegant spicy notes". Hugh Johsnon

"Finca el Bosque, Rioja 2007 (14%): Layered with the broadest spectrum of aromas and flavours - blue and black berries, sweet spice, chocolate, mocha an toasty oak. UK: £71; See. US: $138; USFES" Decanter.

"2009 Finca El Bosque Rioja ($170) (100% tempranillo): Glass-staining purple. Fragrant scents of cherry compote, cassis, violet and sexy oak spices. Dark fruit flavors stain the palate, with notes of candied licorice and floral pastille adding nuance. Dusty tannins build on the back end and adcUuipto the very long, chewy, seductively sweet finish. Give this some time in bottle.93(+?)" International Wine Cellar"


- D.O. Calificada Rioja
- Varieties: Tempranillo 100%.
- Origin of the Grapes: Vineyard: Proprietary vineyard in "la Veguilla" area, in San Vicente de la Sonsierra, La Rioja. Surface: 15 Hcts (37 acres). Altitude: 575 m. (1,890 ft). Sun exposure: S.S.E. (South-Southeast). Soils of calcareous clay; abundance of small rounded stones on surface.
Age: 20 to 35 years old vines. Density of plantation: 4,000 vines per hectare. Type of training: Head-trained in goblet and on trellis. Organic fertilization. Environmental integrated agriculture cultivation.
Exhaustive manual harvesting in boxes. Rigorous selection (in a vineyard or exceptional characteristics and low yield 22 Hls./ Hct., exclusively of just the perfectly-formed, healthy and mature bunches were picked resulting in only 8-10% of all the bunches from the vineyard. Date of harvest: 14th October 2009.
- Vinification: De-stemmed by hand with a rigorous selection of every grape. Cold pre-fermentative maceration during 6 days.
- Fermentation: Fermented in French oak barrels of 5 hectoliters of capacity and in 2 French oak vats of 10 hectoliters. Pressed by foot twice per day dunng the 6 days of fermentation.
- Maceration: On the skins for 21 days.
- Malolactic Fermentation: In 100 % new French oak Bordelaise barrels.
- Estimated ageing: Barrel: 24 months in a different new French oak Bordelaise barrels ("200% new barrel"). Racking every four months. Bottled: december 2011.
- Winemaker: Marcos Eguren.

"Sierra Cantabria, Amancio, Rioja 2006(14.8%). Raspberry aromas with a hint of dried fruit and well-integrated tannins. UK: £57.50; J&B, See. US: $138; USFES"

"2008Amancio Rioja ($174) (100% tempranillo): Bright purple. Explosive aromas of primary dark berries, cola, vanilla and incense, with a strong spicy quality that builds with air. Sappy, penetrating boysenberry and blueberry flavors are deeply concentrated but surprisingly energetic, with a firm spine of acidity adding structure. Finishes silky, sweet and very long, with resonating spice and floral qualities. This is a baby. 93(+?)" International Wine Cellar.

Viñedos Sierra Cantabria
Area under vine: lOOha (250 acres)
Average production: 800.000 bottles
Adress: Amorebieta 3, 26338 San Vicente de la Sonsierra, La Rioja
Contact:  Tel: +34 945600 590; Fax: +34 945 600 885;

Writen by Hugh Johsnon (The finest wines of Rioja)

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