Sunday, June 29, 2014

the modernist

2012 Legaris Roble | DO Ribera del Duero

Really enjoying my summer. Weather's beautiful, sun is shining, birds are chirping ... working on that tan. I've also started working on that business case. Can't reveal all (yet), but it will focus on marketing, branding, and distribution/sales channels. And it's about a winery here in Catalunya. I feel incredibly fortunate to be working on this for the first half of summer. Building knowledge, seeing new things, as they say. And from just our first meeting, some things are already readily apparent.

Spanish wine producers are in a bit of a rough spot. Growth, even locally, is hard to come by. The industry's defining feature is its fragmentation (500 brands producing over 15,000 references), with rebranding and the continual expansion of the product lineup the only way for producers to differentiate. Distributors have enormous power - no surprise - but what's a bit frightening is this sense that there is no urgency to actually present interesting wines to people. If the business is built on what levels of margin are acceptable or not, who is looking out for the small, artisanal producers who make tiny qualities of true, authentic wines, however high (or low) their appellation's prestige is? Am I so green in this industry, so naive, that this is all a bit shocking? Maybe. After all, like in NBA trades, it's all about matching the financials of each player's contracts, and not so much about the actual players themselves. Does there remain a place for idealism in wine, a belief that there is more meaning beyond what margins each tier can receive?!

Legaris is a favourite. I don't drink much Ribera del Duero - something about being a student and heavily in debt. But this is a good introduction to the region, or rather, the more modern side of the region. Still in balance, still with focus ... but nonetheless a modernist. Of course, made with 100% tempranillo grown in alluvial, gravelly, and sandy-loamy soils near the Duero River. For once, let's talk specifics. 2012 was a drought year, but the vintage was saved by rainfalls during two vital periods - shoot elongation, and at the onset of ripening. Harvest took place throughout October, with primary and malolactic fermentation in steel tanks. Further aged for 3 months in American oak, it was then fined with egg whites, filtered, and bottled. For lack of a better term, this is the entry wine of Legaris, to introduce drinkers to the bodega. It's round, it's plushy, with ripe jammy fruit. Well balanced, with slight tannins on the finish to give it precision and texture. Altogether a very well-made, representative wine of Ribera, at a very reasonable price.

Is there a place in the industry for young, hungry people, who still believe they can do something different and positive? Is there room for idealists and dreamers? 


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