Tag Archives: Bodega Cuatro Rayas

’61’ Dorado, a new label for a veteran wine

’61’ Dorado, the first bottled brand of the cooperative, gets a new image to be in line with the last product of Cuatro Rayas Winery: ’61’ Vermouth.

With a dusty gold colour that remembers of the interior of the bottle, guarded by the legendary 61 of the brand, it keeps the essence of what it was and the promise that, once you drink it, you will travel to the past, where wines were fortified and reminiscent of roasted flavours.

Few know that there was a time, not long ago, where fortified wines were the identity of wines in Rueda, Medina, La Seca, Serrada, Nava del Rey and almost all winegrowing villages in the region. This period went from the last quarter of the 19th century up to the 70s. A good example of this are the countless underground cellars, with thousands of barrels and casks in different sizes that the coopers made inside the caves. Well, nowadays we can still talk and taste the last stronghold of these historic wines that were produced, as Sherry wines, using the tiers and soleras system. Cuatro Rayas Winery keeps a wine with these characteristics: 61 Dorado. Coincidentally, this type of wine remains within the categories and typologies regulated by the Regulatory Council of the Designation of Origin of Rueda.

This regulation covers this category of wine “Dorado” and defines it as: “A dry fortified wine produced using oxidative ageing, that must remain in oak barrels for, at least, two years before being commercialised; with golden colour, roasted aromas and flavours due to the long oxidation inside wood barrels and no less than 15% of alcohol content”. Over the years, this kind of wines lost their prominence, giving way to other types of products, although they were always produced under the banner of Verdejo variety.

Cuatro Rayas Winery never forwent this type of wine; in fact, it is the most emblematic of the winemaking tradition. It was the first wine bottled in the winery back in 1950. In 1938 vintage, members decided to take the wine to the winery for the first time and put it into big wooden vats. They chose the best they had with a clear objective: ageing the wine collectively in everyone’s home. Once the wooden vats were loaded with wine, number 61 was the best of all that is why they decided that 61 would become the name shown on the first bottles: Fino 61. It was the birth of the first trademark of the cooperative.

Cuatro Rayas Winery remains faithful to this type of wine. We still produce it in tiers and soleras, the same way they did it at that time. Today we call it ‘Dorado Rueda 61’, and it is the most reliable witness of how winemaking was done in the past. Thus, this white wine (Verdejo and Palomino varietal) takes its name ‘Dorado’ –golden in Spanish– because it refers to its ageing time. It has a high alcohol content (15.5º) and takes a long ageing time. The secret remains in the overripe grapes, and the fermentation and solera processes.

A vine plant from Cuatro Rayas in the Royal Zarzuela Gardens

It happened in mid-April 2010. The cooperative Cuatro Rayas Winery was currently immersed in the celebration of its 75 anniversary, a good reason to be granted a hearing with the then prince Felipe at the Zarzuela Palace. Certainly, it was a unique moment that the members and other guests of a delegation of the winery from La Seca will never forget, including the then president Fernando Prieto; the manager, Vicente Orihuela; line managers of every department, and the presidents of the winery over the past 30 years.

There are not only numerous photos of that visit to be remembered, but also Felipe’s words of thanking when he was awarded the Gold Badge of the winery. He was also very grateful to receive the second gift –which by the way, it quite unusual for such royal palace–, a Verdejo variety vine plant. Felipe himself said that the specimen would be immediately transplanted in the Zarzuela Gardens, joining thus other ornamental and forest species of great singularity. Surely, the gift was well appreciated, since it comes from the Pago de las Cuatro Rayas, one of the most emblematic plots of the cooperative, as it is the point where the four municipalities of La Seca, Medina del Campo, Rueda and Rodilana touch. Don Felipe not only showed great interest on its origin but also on where was the most appropriate place to plant it, taking into account all the needs for a vine of these characteristics – like the type of soil, sunlight and aeration.

Also, on that important day, we do not want to forget the delivery to His Royal Highness of a Magnum bottle of Cuatro Rayas by Dionisio Miguel Recio, already deceased and former president of Club Balonmano Valladolid, one of the major sports team sponsored by our winery. Again, Felipe expressed his gratitude for the gift and showed his interest, as part of a more relaxed conversation, in other aspects of the firm, such as the production, distribution, commercial network and presence, mainly, in the international markets.

Cuatro Rayas and its commitment to recycling

Cuatro Rayas Winery has just joined the 2017-2019 Business Plan for Packaging Waste Prevention intended for the wine and spirits industry. This is an initiative from Ecovidrio, a non-profit organisation in charge of managing the recycling of all glass containers in Spain. Admittedly, recycling is everyone’s task and a simple gesture –like throwing away a bottle in a green bin– can help society if all of us make our contribution.

The philosophy of Ecovidrio and the extraordinary work they have been developing for two decades has encouraged us to sign this collaboration agreement that has a lot to do with the protection of the environment and sustainable development. The first line of action we have committed with is to adopt a series of measures to reduce the weight of the primary packaging; e.g., the usage of lighter bottles, in our case. Another established objective has to do with the weight of the tertiary packaging, pursuing to reduce the micronage of the stretch film (for palletisation) and shrink wrapping (to put together primary packaging); e.g., pallet wrapping film will be thinner, although it will improve its elastic properties.

Another of the commitments of Cuatro Rayas with Ecovidrio refers to the increase of the percentage of recycled material used in our winery, not only in the packaging but also in the cardboard packages. The latter concerns to the generic cardboard boxes we use at Cuatro Rayas Winery and, since we joined the plan, even the dividers of the interior which we are using are made of recycled material.

As you can see, Cuatro Rayas makes its contribution to recycling committing to sustainability. We believe, and we are sure that the project will become bigger soon with the help and responsibility of everyone.

Wine tasting of the wine with the longest tradition in Cuatro Rayas

‘61 Dorado’ is the oldest wine of Cuatro Rayas Winery. It is said to be the most genuine
and with the most tradition. It was born and bottled in our cellar more than half a
century ago. Undoubtedly, it best represents the purest tradition of wines produced and
consumed in the region of Rueda, long before the arrival of young, fresh and fruity
Verdejo variety wines that we know today.

Ángel Calleja –governing board member of Cuatro Rayas and, for more than four
decades, winemaker of the cooperative– knows very well the history of this wine. Ángel
tells us that 61 doesn’t refer to vintage, but actually, it has to do with the numbering of a
vat. Because, at the very beginning, winegrowers used to make their wine at home until
they established the cooperative. It was then when they took the wine from their houses
and poured all their contributions in a shared vat. Even though there were a few, number
61 was the best of all. Hence every wanted to buy its wine. So, that is the reason for the
name.

‘61 Dorado’ is a dry, liqueur wine, as a result of the oxidative ageing. Its alcohol
content is no less than 15% and must remain in oak for, at least, the previous two years
immediately before its commercialisation. Given Cuatro Rayas Winery performs the
traditional method, this wine has to types of ageing: biological (developing a film of
yeasts in a Jerezana butt) and oxidative (in 640L casks that allow the contact of the
wine with the wood). We can’t talk about vintages with this wine, as we produce it
following the tiers and soleras system.

Ángel Calleja and the current Cuatro Rayas’ winemaker, Elena M. Oyagüe, help us to
understand this wine better through the language of wine tasting. Appearance stage: it is
bright, limpid and golden because of the oxidative ageing. It has characteristic aromas
of biological ageing: hints of dough and yeasts, and oxidative ageing: almonds and nuts.
Balsamic, complex with bitter hints and a long finish. Regarding the pairing and
consumption, Elena recommends pairing it with a wide variety of cheeses, while Ángel
opts for game meats and artichoke stews.

Sugarcane “seals” Cuatro Rayas’ wine range

We have already talked about the closure of the bottle, about the process that surrounds
it, and, especially, about the materials used. Along with cork, synthetic and natural
stoppers, now a new addition closures the range of Cuatro Rayas’ wines. We are talking
about a cork made from polymers derived from sugar cane.

The new kind of cork provides a high-quality closure, although its main advantage has
to do with the control of oxygen ingress in the bottle. In addition to the oxygen control,
another particular feature is that it is the world’s first virtually zero carbon footprint
closure for fine wines.

Another of the advantages is that this kind of closure doesn’t provide flaws to the wine.
Furthermore, it has an excellent mechanical action in the closure, in other words, it
corks perfectly and keeps good closure conditions, at the very least, for five years. It is
certainly a great innovation in the wine sector that, in this case, benefits from a
vegetable raw material such wonderful as the sugar cane. Environment-friendly,
sustainable, easy-to- uncork and provides all guarantees for wine preservation. These are
the new stoppers that seal the wines of Cuatro Rayas Winery. Could we ask for more?

Plot control via Satellite: precision in the vineyard and quality in wines

Cuatro Rayas Winery has launched a project in collaboration with ITACyL (Technologic and Agrarian Institute of Castile and Leon) to make a precise monitoring of particular plots of our winegrower members. All of them have a common denominator: the vigour of the vineyard. It is not always the same, that is why there are three differentiating levels: high, medium and low. This is a very precise project in determining this feature, as we have the advantage that the plots have been identified through satellite images. In this way, we can observe the evolution of the vineyard in detail, which is very important for any work done on site.

Once the plots are identified, the project envisages the establishment of two working groups to carry out their monitoring: on one side a group formed by the technical team of ITACyL and on the other hand, the technical and oenology teams of Cuatro Rayas Winery. Both groups of professionals perform the same tasks, in the vineyard and the laboratory. Including sample taking, grape harvesting and even the analysis of the material and the subsequent winemaking. That is to say, we address the process thoroughly, from the vine to the wine, but separately and taking into account the vigour of the plots. The only difference is that while the institute works with small amounts, the winery applies the same sampling criteria but on a larger scale.

What it is exciting about this job is the contrast of both working team results on the same sample. It is still early to reveal them, as the collaboration project consists of two years, but this detailed work intends to draw conclusions that will allow us to improve the future quality of the wines. Carrying out vertical sampling will show, in the future, results to be taken into account and they will have an impact even when organising the harvesting.

61 Vermouth, the vermouth from La Seca

May this vermouth trend be welcomed! It has become almost a social act that brings together family and friends before having lunch. It was already quite trendy between the 60s and the end of the 80s, although this tradition has never languished. Bar and cafés were crammed with people at ‘vermouth time’, to drink it according to the ritual – a dash of soda to taste, a slice of lemon and an olive.

Today we want to talk you about Cuatro Rayas’ Vermouth 61. For the first time, a Verdejo variety wine becomes part of the winemaking of one of the trending drinks: vermouth. And it steps in firmly. In fact, Cuatro Rayas Winery accounted it when they launched this new product campaign: Produced with 100% Verdejo variety. Also, the winery from La Seca has chosen one of their most emblematic brands, as this was the first bottled brand in the 50s of the now known Cuatro Rayas Winery. Hence, “61” becomes the first vermouth available in the market, which claims its Verdejo roots: A white wine that has been macerated with a careful selection of botanicals resulting in a mahogany colour vermouth with low bush aromas.

The winemaker Roberto L. Tello –from the technical team and a professional devoted to bringing every day the best of this grape variety in the wines he produces– has been in charge of giving birth a product that combines modernity and tradition. In fact, you can find this brand today in one of our oldest wines, “61” Dorado, a fortified wine that is a historic testimony of the wines supported by the D.O. Rueda.

‘61 Vermouth’ is bottled in a Jerezana bottle to claim its wine personality. It has been produced with 100% Verdejo variety, and it is the result of the coupage of an aged on lees and barrel fermented wine with a similar amount of young Verdejo. The aim is that the result, macerated with a mix of the botanicals, expresses the characteristics of the grape. The mix of the Verdejo together with the essence of the botanicals provide this vermouth with a mahogany colour with amber highlights and an intense aroma, where low bush as fennel, elderflower dominates and hints of thyme and rosemary, characteristic of the Verdejo variety, appear. Balanced on the palate, with a bitter, pleasant long finish, and the balsamic aftertaste we found on the nose.

Welcome, Cuatro Rayas Verdejo 2017!

It is already on sale: Cuatro Rayas Verdejo white wine vintage 2017 has begun to be uncorked. The first week of last year’s December welcomed warmly one of the wines with the greater personality of our winery. The bottle, the cork and the capsule that contain it have been the final point of a long process that began when the previous harvest finished in autumn 2016. After that, winter and pruning came, first buds appeared, then leaves, and following primary clusters started to shape into form. Berries and clusters of grapes arrived, and veraison and ripening took place. And, again, harvesting: of 2017 vintage. The fruit of the vine, which today we have the chance to taste, comes from that time.

 

Many people ask us about the quality of the Verdejo variety grapes that made possible this new wine, and we can describe it in a few words; it is of exceptional quality. The winemaker, Elena Martín Oyagüe, confirms it; she is in charge of the winemaking process, and customers, who had the opportunity to taste it, reaffirm it too. Elena explains that the winemaking process began with the fermentation in stainless steel vats at around 15ºC –for 21 days– although previously, grapes were macerated in the press to extract the aromas.

The result is an over the top wine. Tasting notes show us, in the looking stage, a pale yellow colour with greenish hues, bright. It is powerful on the nose, with tropical white fruit aromas over a background of citric fruit. On the palate, it is incredibly refreshing. Intense and with crisp acidity, aromas reminiscent of white fruit appear on the aftertaste and the characteristic fennel nuances. As always, it is advisable to taste it at an optimum temperature. It pairs perfectly with any dish, product or recipe, although it is perfect to pair with appetisers, fish and shellfish. Cheers!

Two weeks of direct support to the victims of the earthquake in Mexico

The export manager of Cuatro Rayas Winery, Sergio Fiorentini, returns to Spain after having experienced the earthquake first-hand and having collaborated with winery’s customer restaurants in the country. He helped washing dishes during services for the needy, supporting food gathering and buying medicines. During these two weeks, despite the cancellation of the commercial appointments, he continued to visit clients with the aim to assist in any way he could. This is his testimony:

“I would like to share with you the horrific experience I have lived in my trip to Mexico. On 19 September, while I was working together with a group of journalists we were surprised by the earthquake,I don’t need to explain what we felt, not just during the quake, but after the evacuation of the building in the service stairway, without any light and fragments of the ceiling and paint falling on us. After three long hours waiting in the street, we were allowed to come back to the hotel. Even though the sounds of ambulances and helicopters were increasing, I was not yet aware of the degree of the event.

The meetings I had planned for that afternoon, obviously, were cancelled, so I wanted to come close to the area to lend a hand in anything I could. Big was my surprise when I saw hundreds and hundreds of people making lines to remove the rubble of collapsed buildings and trying to save as many victims as possible, it was already impossible to access to the zone as the police just let through people with shovels, picks and other tools.

When I came back from Oaxaca (where I had flown to continue with my agenda) to Mexico City, on behalf of the Winery, I wanted to donate to the victims and volunteers that were working on the rescue works. Given that most of the restaurants of the city were storing food to make meals for the victims, I got in contact with two of our customer restaurants, but they told me that they could not store more foodstuff since their refrigerators were overloaded with the donations. Through the website of the Red Cross, I saw that they needed medicines, and with the help of several hotel staff, I visited several chemists due to the de shortage in order to buy saline, gauze, syringes, surgical supplies, eye drops for the volunteers, isotonic drinks, etc. Then I took them to the Álvaro Obregón area, feeling sad for what I saw, but also feeling encouraged and breathless by the strength and fortitude of the people working incessantly to save lives. The director of the Red Cross thanked us a lot the gesture and took me to where the Spanish delegation sent by the government, UME (Military Emergencies Unit), was working and I could greet and share a few minutes with them.

Back to the hotel, I found in the room the messages I enclose, written by the people who helped me to look for chemists and then took me to the place where I delivered the medicines. No words…”

Sergio Fiorentini.

Sample collection: from veraison to the end of the harvest

It is one of the most important processes before the beginning of the harvest since it will determine when the picking of the grape can begin. We are talking about the sample collection, and we always do it on site. Sampling is essential to know the state of the vineyard before harvesting. If grapes are not ripe enough, it will have an impact on the quality of the wine, that is why controls in the vineyards are so important just before the harvest.

The technical staff of the vineyard of Cuatro Rayas Winery is in charge of this important task. In general, they use defined sampling patterns in order to ensure repetitions and that all of them are taken in the same places. That is to say, in the same vineyard terrains, in the same row of vines, around the same vine plants.

It is important to know that the samples are taken randomly, but the result of the tests will provide us with the same results as if they analysed the whole plot. This process is constantly performed, from veraison, usually in mid-August, until the end of the harvest. In the case of Cuatro Rayas Winery, we take samples on almost all of the 2,300 hectares of vineyard owned by our cooperative members. Once collected and accurately identified, the samples are transferred immediately to the Laboratory at Cuatro Rayas Winery.

When the grapes are in the Laboratory, firstly, they weigh the berries. Next, they crush them to obtain must, and they analyse the acidity and potential alcohol. If the tests meet the desired parameters, they send the results to the Vineyard Department, which will begin to schedule the harvesting of the grape from the plots that were given the green light, right away and as soon as possible.