All my wine blogs

What it takes to make exceptional wines – Part II.

Decades ago, there was a trend in Spain to harvest grapes, mix them all together and make a large quantity of so-so wine. It was cheaper and easier that way. But Marcos had different idea. When he discovered great potential in soil, he treated each little parcel separately. He was then waiting patiently for its best year, best expression, he respected the characteristic of the terroir, grape, soil, age of vines and different sun exposure – and all those little details that influence the quality of the great bottle of wine.Some wine producers in Rioja were probably knocking on their foreheads then. “He is not going to make any money like that…” some were saying. Well, he proved them all wrong. His TLC approach brought him where he stands today. What do I mean by that?

From the harvest, when grapes are selected at the vineyard and only the right clusters arrive in the winery, to every bunch, carefully selected in sorting tables again and in some cases de-stemmed by hand. Marco’s team is instructed to pick grape per grape and choose the perfect berries in size, quality, health and ripeness.

It is an excessive manual work that pays off in the quality of his wines. The wine than ages in French, American and European oak barrels, produced by the world’s best coopers. Aging underground, in the best natural temperature and humidity conditions, wines are nurtured to perfection.

All this detailed work, and much more made Marcus one of the most Rioja’s respected and skilled winemakers, with many awards and high wine ratings under his belt. Today, his son Eduardo is working in the winery, following his father’s footsteps.

I was honored to meet Marcos Eguren in summer of 2007, during my trip to Spain. Even though he seemed reserved first, his personality made a huge impression on me, just like his wines do. I remember the first time he walked into their wine cellars at Sierra Cantabria. I didn’t know who he was first, but it seemed like a sun came down to the cellars. Marcos had a great sense of humor and ended up spending almost 5 hours with us despite his busy schedule.

We have also seen their newest project building in the hill. They are using a huge machinery that cuts exact blocs of the rock hill to build the tunnel so they can later use those blocks to build on the land.

On this picture: their current Sierra Cantabria aging facility.

I felt natural respect and uncompromising firmness of Marcos character, mixed with his humility. I believe that he is able to transform all that into each of his bottles. That’s probably the secret ingredient that makes his wines so balanced and unique. It’s not only terroir and great vines. It’s his personal love and passion he has for his wines.

 

Later, as we sat together in his grandparent’s beautifully renovated house (the door is used on San Vicente label) and tasted through his super star wines, I was assured about it.

There, in front of us, were undoubtedly some best wines available from Spain. Unlike so many winemakers I met before, Marcos didn’t talk much about himself or his wines. Instead he sat back, tasted with us and waited for our opinions. He preferred to hear what we thought about new vintages and his work.

Continuation in Part III.

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