Tag Archives: D.O Rueda

Custodio Zamarra: “The best wine is the one that, according to your budget, makes you happier”

The renowned sommelier is the second guest of ‘Conversations about Spanish wine’, hosted by the journalist Javier Pérez Andrés. Zalacaín restaurant, where Zamarra developed his career for more than 40 years, is the setting for this conversation revolving around the world of wine

La Seca (Valladolid), 3 July 2019.- After featuring the specialised journalist Carlos Delgado in the first edition of ‘Conversations about Spanish wine’, the second edition of this programme features one of the most renowned sommeliers in Spain. On this occasion, Javier Pérez Andrés talks with Custodio Zamarra, sharing anecdotes and thoughts around the wine industry and its evolution over the past 25 years. Zamarra reflects about the wine industry in Spain and emphasises, among other things, that “the best wine is the one that, according to your budget, makes you happier”. In this respect, he adds that “from the point of view of winemaking, no wine costs more than 50 euros”, though, “when it comes to wine, we don’t only pay the content, but its history”.

The scenario for this talk was the Zalacaín restaurant, where Zamarra was a sommelier for more than 40 years until his retirement. His history in this famed Madrilenian gastronomy symbol, as well as the evolution of wine and the work of sommeliers in recent years, are some of the key points of the conversation between Pérez Andrés and Zamarra. So, after giving value to the journey experienced by the viticulture in our country, the sommelier has not hesitated to assert that “Spain is one of the most important countries in the world of wine”. Pérez Andrés and Zamarra enjoy their meal paired with Cuatro Rayas Cuarenta Vendimias Cuvée, a collectible Verdejo wine, distributed exclusively to the hospitality industry and the best wine bars which the sommelier states that is a “really extraordinary Verdejo wine”.

Four decades of dedication to wine in Zalacaín
Custodio Zamarra is one of the most important personalities in the world of sommeliers in Spain. Working in the hospitality industry since she was very young, his career in Zalacaín began at the early age of 24, when he joined the team of this restaurant in Madrid. From there on, thousands of wines have passed through Zamarra’s hands. Making him one of the most authoritative voices in the national wine scene.

Promotion of wine-making culture
“Conversations about Spanish wine’ is a new format that takes advantage of new technologies, distributed exclusively through social networks. A 30-minute episode that shows a meeting between the greatest wine connoisseurs in this country and Javier Pérez Andrés – a specialised journalist whose career has made him a leader of opinion on the information of wine, tourism and gastronomy in Castile and Leon. In these meetings, they will share their opinions, values and criteria. All of this in a series of talks, that, for the first time in Spain, generates a serious discussion filled with knowledge from the biggest authorities in the industry: journalists, sommeliers and several professionals of recognised prestige. The initiative ‘Conversations about Spanish wine’’ is sponsored by Bodega Cuatro Rayas, leader cooperative in the DO Rueda. Having quality wine as a key cornerstone, with this new format, the winery wants to focus on spreading the knowledge of the wine industry with the support of experts.

Acknowledgement to Restaurant Zalacaín

 

’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.

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.

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?

Cuatro Rayas and the spirit of Christmas

If there is an appropriate time to make a toast, it should be during the last days of December. And best of all, it is not just one day, but many. Moreover, chances increase when family and friends gather up around toasts –in a warm embrace that is unusually intense when Christmas comes. Along with a toast, there are good wishes and sometimes an exchange of gifts. Emotions run very high and nostalgic feelings are inevitable, as this time of the year remembers us the one who left.

The spirit of Christmas is also in the eyes of children, probably the purest reflection of dreams and hope. But it also comes into homes, eateries and restaurants, where they set the tables beautifully for a celebration that abounds with local products and wines characteristic of the region.

From Cuatro Rayas Winery we also want to toast to all of you. And we want to do it in the best possible way, raising a Verdejo wine glass, the symbol that best defines our work. We toast to them who continue cultivating vines in the plots of their elders and to all of us, keeping this valuable legacy that many refer to as ‘Culture of Wine’. That is all that we are about. We toast to everything that surrounds us and enriches us, because we cherish wine growers, but also shepherds and their herds of sheeps, and all men and women who commit every day to depict this beautiful rural landscape –to which we belong– with their crafts, customs and traditions.

We hope Cuatro Rayas’ wines would be on your table on Christmas Eve and Christmas day. Our best wishes travel within every bottled that is going to be open, therefore every glass, every sip has to be a present filled with shared emotions. We raise a glass to every one of you and to the more than 60 countries where you can already make a toast with Cuatro Rayas’s wines. We’ve made it possible together. Merry Christmas.

Manual harvest in Cuatro Rayas

When the harvest time comes, the engine of the winery sets in motion. Tractors, trailers, loading hoppers, machines and all technical staff of the winery work at full capacity. Grape pickers also have a key role; even though we harvest the majority of the vineyards in Cuatro Rayas mechanically, gobelet-trained vineyards require manual harvesting.

Today, we came to the vineyard terrain of two brothers, Ignacio and Jacinto Martín, located in Pago Bodeguilla de Serrada (Valladolid). Both are winegrower members of Cuatro Rayas, and during these days, grape pickers work hard to harvest the grapes. The process is completely manual. Nowadays, baskets and old panniers gave way to boxes, where they place the freshly cut bunches, one by one, rejecting the damaged ones. The process requires a delicate and skilful handling, sometimes bordering artisanship, from the cut with the secateurs to the placing into the boxes. Once boxes are filled, they are load into the trailers, and then the load is transferred to the winery in the shortest possible time. In this way, we can maintain, to the extent possible, the temperature and the quality of the grape.

Having a chat with Jacinto Martin made us remember how different harvesting was in years past when everything –absolutely everything– was picked by hand. It had little to do with the economic activity generated nowadays with the sales and the production of wine: harvest was simply a big celebration and a family gathering. It is difficult to forget the picture of the vineyards crowded with children, old people, people of all ages, neighbours from other villages, pack animals, charts, baskets crammed with grapes.
Over the years, first changes arrived, and machines changed harvest into something completely different. The first machines arrived in the region in the 80s from France. At first, winegrowers looked at them askance, but soon enough, they realised their advantages: they picked grapes faster, and they saved many costs, mainly workforce related. However, despite the mechanisation, those precious gobelet-trained vineyards kept by some of the members of Cuatro Rayas Winery deserve human and individual care and attention.

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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.