Tag Archives: Bodega Cuatro Rayas

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.

 

Wine Press: from Roman wine press to oxygen free atmosphere

Just a few implements have contributed such efficiently to the development of winemaking as presses.  Even though modern wineries do not use Roman wine presses anymore, the main idea remains.  Wooden beams have given way to more modern materials, and nowadays, human power is not necessary to put into operation the pressing process.  Much water has flowed under the bridge between the Roman beam time and the modern systems of pressing. In fact, Cuatro Rayas Winery has given priority to the technology area, being always equipped with the best technology solutions for winemaking.

In this regard, we want to talk to you about the Inertis pneumatic press system, which works in the total absence of oxygen atmosphere, with the aim to protect the must during the pressing process. In so doing, we avoid the development of oxidation, a consequence of the losses of aromas in the musts, which are the key to the quality of our future white wines. Without a doubt, it is one of the most delicate processes for the grapes before they transform into wine. Further, in our case, these Inertis pneumatic presses are environmentally friendly, consuming very little energy and managing to rework the nitrogen generated during every process. The press we use at Cuatro Rayas Winery is part of our most advanced technological equipment. Undoubtedly, a new example of the cutting-edge technology in service of the quality and the wines of the 21st Century.

From the bunch to the stem

We have already spoken about the advantages of the mechanical harvest. Its benefits are related to time-saving, harvesting costs, better precision, and the improvement of the quality of the grape. As you can imagine, turning the bunch into a stem in record time and with all the guarantees is another of the great advantages of the mechanical process. Have you ever asked how destemming of the berry from its “skeleton’” is done? Well, let me enlighten you right away. As you already know, the harvesting machine works as it straddles on every row of the vines. It shakes the bunch of grapes vigorously with a kind of “beater bars”. Thanks to the vibratory movements, berries come out of the bunch easily and fall into a conveyor belt housed inside the machine. This method is so effective, that 80% of the bunch – of course, empty – remains on the vine.

But, what happens with the stems that, inevitably, come into the machine? A built-in stalk remover, inside the machine, takes care of it. It is so efficient, that it manages to remove them immediately before the berries enter the hopper. In so doing, the berries are completely free from stems avoiding any foreign object, which could infuse the must with undesired bitter flavours, to come into the press. As you can imagine, destemming is an essential process. Not only removes the berry from the stem, but also many other plant residues, such as leaves and small vine shoots.

In the case of Cuatro Rayas Winery, another advantage of the mechanical destemming is that we do it in the field, making sure that the grapes that go into the winery are completely free of those residues. However, the whole process, which we have just explained finishes with a final check in the cellar, once the trailer comes with the grape load.

Bodega Cuatro Rayas indigenous yeasts

It is not always easy to understand some terms related to the winemaking process. We often hear about yeasts, which are nothing but a microscopic fungus, and are in charge of the alcoholic fermentation when they enter in contact with the must. This is a key process in winemaking. However, not all the yeasts are the same: there are many kinds and species. This time, we will focus on the indigenous yeasts, namely, those that can be found naturally in the grape, without human intervention.

But let’s go one step at a time. Laboratories select commercial yeasts that come from different parts of the world; they are dehydrated products that we add to the must. But indigenous yeasts are a completely different thing; you can imagine how we obtain them with this example: if we go to the vineyard, and we crush a bunch of grapes to obtain the must –and we leave it in a container– after a few days, must fermentation will take place spontaneously through the action of lots of yeasts attached to the skin of the grape. Those are the indigenous yeasts.

Each region, even each vineyard, has its own indigenous yeasts. They are essential because, when performing the alcoholic fermentation, they pass on their distinct character to the wine. This is a part of what we call ‘terroir’, making that wine different to other produced wines, even with the same variety. However, a wine produced like this doesn’t behave in the same way every year, since it won’t develop the same yeasts because the development of the so-called ‘microbial flora’ depends on the weather and environmental conditions and the usage of phytosanitary products. Furthermore, some of these yeasts won’t be able to carry out the alcoholic fermentation completely, or even they could transmit bad aromas and undesired flavours to the wine. For this reason, the vast majority of the wineries use commercial yeasts to carry out a controlled alcoholic fermentation.

In Bodega Cuatro Rayas, we have been performing a selection process of our indigenous yeasts since 2012 vintage, in a project developed with the support of LEW 2050, a company related to the Universidad of Navarra. The Department of Oenology at Bodega Cuatro Rayas is the responsible for this, selecting the most suitable yeasts, among all spontaneous fermentation yeasts, to transmit our wines the character of the vineyards of our region. In this way, using our yeasts, we make wines with character and a particular authenticity.

Century Old Vines, historical and human heritage of the winery

Beyond sentimental value, an old photograph provides extremely valuable information. Even though the passage of time has slightly faded it or despite the poor quality of the image, the fact is that to behold such a flash of the past is like holding a small treasure. The picture we want to show you today was taken almost 80 years ago in the same place where the participants in the next video are having a chat: José Martín del Campo, vineyard technical director at Cuatro Rayas, and two of the members of the winery, Carlos Gómez Sanz and Alfredo Barreras Agüero. These latter two have a lot to do with the picture since some of their close family members appear in the black and white photograph. In this historical harvest-season setting, children, parents, uncles, aunts and grandparents pose next to pack animals, baskets, carts and large grape bunchs. Although 80 years have passed, the vines were there long before that.

 

 

Now, this group picture comes out from this family photo album becoming a documentary source, as the vines behind the image are the same that nowadays remain in the vineyard –where our three guests are sitting– in the municipal district of Aldeanueva del Codonal, Segovia. In fact, this area preserves the largest amount of century-old vines, since they were uprooted in many neighbouring villages. Locals have always referred to this area as Las Viñas Viejas (“The Old Vines”); even though only this small parcel of land remains, the entire vineyard used to stretch back to the pine forests that stand today at the far edge of the landscape. Bodega Cuatro Rayas owns a century-old vineyard in this area, including 10 hectares of pre-phylloxera vines without rootstock. Likewise, some members of the winery own a large area of vineyards, which apparently were planted 80 years ago. In other words, a great richness that some of the Bodega Cuatro Rayas members treasure since they decided to keep these small vineyards in the plots that some of their ancestors planted. They are true hidden treasures and their grapes, the most coveted fruit. Nowadays, they cherish these vine plants as their elder ones, because they bear little fruit, but what they do produce is of outstanding quality.

We also brought to the estate two of the wines made with these century-old grapes from this type of plots. Our guests hold in their hands two of Bodega Cuatro Rayas’ gems: Amador Díez (Verdejo Cuvée) of the 2015 vintage and Cuatro Rayas Viñedos Centenarios, a white Verdejo of the 2016 vintage. From this old picture to the modern wines, only 80 vegetative cycles have passed, and many more still to be harvested, bunch by bunch.

Cuatro Rayas oak 2015: the organic Tempranillo

The winemaker Roberto López guides us in our organic Tempranillo red tasting. This unique wine is part of the Cuatro Rayas range. It has spent three months in oak (French and American) and belongs to the 2015 vintage. The back label displays two stamps: that of the Rueda Designation of Origin and that of the Organic Farming Council. What does the latter mean? Like other wines from our cellar, our organic wine comes from vineyards cultivated using parameters based on respect for the environment, as does its production method.

Tasting allows us to discover the organoleptic qualities of the wine. In this case, the winemaker from Cuatro Rayas, Roberto López pays special attention to the description, step by step from the visual phase, to the olfactory phase to the tasting one. The first thing that strikes us is the color: strong rubyred with purple reflections at the rim. It is clean, bright and of medium intensity. On the nose there are aromas of ripe forest fruits, such as blackberry and raspberry. On the palate, it is smooth and velvety, showing balance and persistence. Undoubtedly, a red wine with character that enriches the Cuatro Rayas range in all its dimensions.

Vineyard Technical Department: professionals down on the vineyard

They are specialists in winegrowing and have a perfect understanding of the vegetative cycle of all varieties. They also understand soil types, the morphology of the vines, sensory analysis of grapes and all the cultural practices needed by the vineyard throughout the year. They are able to make a brief note about pruning, while handling the powerful database that records every detail of their co-op growers’ plots. Through their hands pass the control of a vineyard where Bodega Cuatro Rayas reaches 2,500 hectares, 20% of those registered in the Rueda Designation of Origin. Not only do they patrol the vineyards, but they also serve a membership base of 300 winegrowers: the most powerful cog in the machine at Bodega Cuatro Rayas.

The Technical Vineyard Department at Cuatro Rayas comprises the technical vineyard director, José Martín; in addition to technicians Enrique González, Rebeca Altable and Mercedes Bragado. They work down on the vineyard with a refractometer and are also glued to the computer, monitoring the winegrowing registers and the condition of the vineyard in all seasons. Their duties include such important tasks as the control of the vineyard for all the cooperative members (advisory service in the area of vineyard tasks or treatments, management of new plantations, field notebooks and agricultural insurance) and plot monitoring throughout the growth cycle, from pruning operations to post-harvest.

 

The Technical Vineyard Department also deals with administrative issues related to cooperative members, manages export aid and third countries, as well as organizing such delicate tasks as harvesting, which during the campaign mobilizes the entire department, even doubling it on occasions, until such time as the last grape is harvested and brought into the winery.