lunes, 14 de enero de 2013

Señorio de San Vicente Wine (Eguren Family - La Rioja)


- D. O. Calificada Rioja
- Type: Red barrel aged.
- Varieties: Tempranillo peludo (100%).
- Winery: Señorio de San Vicente
- Area under vine: 18ha (44.5 acres)
- Average production: 55,000 bottles
- Origin of the Grapes: Vineyard: Finca la Canoca, San Vicente de la Sonsierra La Rioja: 18 ha (44.5 acres). Soils of calcareous clay. High density plantation on trellis. Organic fertilization. Environmental integrated agriculture cultivation. Exhaustive manual harvesting of perfectly mature dusters with good sanitary conditions; further selection made in the winery using a double sorting table.
- Date of harvest 19 - 21 of october 2009. Yield: 23 Hls/Hct.
- Fermentation: 10 days with two pump-overs daily. Traditional elaboration, 100% de-stemmed. Temperature control between 28 and 30° C (82 and 86° F).
- Maceration: On the skins for 14 days. The first eight days, two daily pump-overs; after that, the frequency was reduced, finishing with a light pump over every two days.
- Malolactic fermentation: In barrel.
- Ageing: Barrel: 19 months in new Bordelaise barrels of French oak (90%) and American oak (10%) beginning in november 2009. Racking every tow months. Bottled unfiltered in july 2011.
- Winemaker: Marcos Eguren.
- Tasting notes: This wine has a dark cherry colour and a garnet rim. On the nose we find many layers of aromas that make the wine very complex and interesting. Aromas of black fruits, spices, and interesting nuances of plants such as eucalyptus, blackcurrant leaves, etc. On the palate is powerful, complex, elegant, with fine tannins, good acidity, toasted wood and alcohol, all well integrated.
- Price: £29.62 (UK); $64 (EE.UU.); 38 € (ES)
- Adress: Los Remedios 27,26338 San Vicente de la Sonsierra, La Rioja (Spain)
- Contact: Tel: +34 945600 590; Fax: +34 945 600 885;

Señorio de San Vicente wine is sourced from the vineyard called "La Canoca" in San Vicente de la Sonsierra, a privileged vineyard of 18ha (44.5 acres) replanted in the 1980s with a selection of low-yielding vines from other parcels. La Canoca vineyard was given an unusually long rest period, during which a strict selection was made of lower-yielding vines among the many hectares owned by the Eguren family. It was Marcos Eguren who asked his father Guillermo (who was, at the time, responsible for vineyard management) to find and select the lowest-yielding vines as the first step in a severe selection process.

Their ultimate goal was to reduce yields drastically by choosing concentration over volume. Today, this approach is fairly widespread, but in those days it certainly was not; according to Marcos, "In this area, nobody wasted grapes until the mid 1990s." In fact Guillermo Eguren went about his work compiling and selecting those vines in the belief that they were to be discarded. His surprise must have been great when Marcos, backed by his brother Miguel Angel, told him that their intention was to plant the 18ha of La Canoca exclusively with them. These vines shared ampelographic characteristics that made them different from the rest; a peculiar shade in the foliage colour, smaller berries in somewhat loose clusters, and a velvety bloom on the leaves—hence the name given to this subvariety, Tempranillo Peludo (“HairyTempranillo").

From 1985 until the moment they released the first commercial vintage of the wine emerging from this vineyard (San Vicente 1991)to great critical and sales success, Guillermo was forced to endure the scorn and derision of his neighbours. As Marcos says, the neighbours would ask, “What have you planted there. Guillermo, the worst plants?" Those were years of systematically poor yields that contrasted with the massive harvests and easy income made by other local growers, who were still focused on quantity.

According to Marcos, when the moment came to put a price on those first bottles of San Vicente 1991, he could not forget his fathers patience in the face of the local grower´s jokes in the taverns. The price well above that of any other Rioja reserva then had to compensate fully for his fathers forbearance, as well as for the more tangible expenses, purely to prove that all that effort had not been in vain. Even though the 1991 was followed by two poor vintages when no San Vicente would be produced, 1994 brought much needed vindication, and since then some San Vicente has always been produced, normally released three years after the vintage.

With San Vicente 1994, the family pioneered the now-widespread practice of releasing high profile wines under the generic Rioja label. Jorge Ordonez, its American importer, was confident he would be able to sell that 1994, whether or not it bore the reserva label that had graced the 1991 (and was used for the Spanish market), so the export lots were sent with the generic label only. It was an adventurous move but by no means foolhardy. They went on to test the Spanish market with a generically labelled 1995 vintage, and since the public seemed happy with it, they have persisted with it since 1996. This decision implied the loss of the commercial prestige of the reserva label (which was very influential then, and remains so today in some circles), but it also gave the family the freedom to decide on the length of the aging process and the date of commercial release.

Consequently, San Vicente is a wine of great concentration 100 per cent Tempranillo from La Canoca vineyard, aged for 20 months in new oak barrels. Originally, it was exclusively American oak, but after 1996, French oak was gradually introduced, starting at 20 per cent and later moving to 40 per cent, then 60, 80, and 90 per cent, which means the latest vintages have seen a mere to per cent American oak.

Indeed, San Vicente is, of all his wines, a favourite of Marcos’s, mostly for sentimental reasons, since it was this wine that marked the family leap from traditional to modern wines right from the very first vintage in 1991.

Writen by Hugh Johsnon (The finest wines of Rioja)

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