Tag Archives: España

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.

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.

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.

Click here to watch the video

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.

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.