Tag Archives: spanish wine

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!

The lucky grapes of Cuatro Rayas

Each passing year carries away twelve months of our lives. It seems unbelievable how time passes so fast. Each new vintage remembers it to us flying by on printed paper labels. Since, for a winery, a closing year is also a completed cycle of its hard labour. All of us have witnessed it, but, the best witness is outside, outdoors: the vine.

Vines are the witness of everything, from pruning to harvest. The weight of their bunches rests on them, and they receive everything nature provides each season: frost, rain, scorching sun, night breezes and freezing winter nights. Sometimes late, inopportunely or doubly… May 2018 be mild with the vines, now that drought is hitting hard! We hope for the rain and snow to come soon, which is badly needed.

In the ending year, we want to give you our twelve grapes of luck. Actually, all the grapes at Cuatro Rayas have been touched by the magic wand of luck; otherwise, we could not uncork the great wines we produce at the winery. The grapes we will have at New Year’s Eve taste of Verdejo, fruits and flowers, that is why each bell stroke will come together with the sweet taste of good wishes. We wish happiness to every member of the team at Cuatro Rayas Winery, to our customers and friends, to our distribution network, and to wine lovers who put their trust in Cuatro Rayas when they order wine at a bar or when they uncork it at their home.

May each grape bring you luck. From Cuatro Rayas Winery, we wish you a blissful 2018, with the aim to contribute to it toasting with a Verdejo white wine in the glass. There is no better way to try your good luck. Thank you for trusting in our work and may we shared together a lot of vintages to come. Happy New Year.

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.

Cuatro Rayas Cuarenta Vendimias Sauvignon Blanc

Just a few things are as pleasing as uncorking a bottle and tasting the wine. We burst with excitement when we observe how it entices our senses, the complexity of its nuances, the colour, and the aromas and how palate-pleasing it is. In the next video, you can watch a wine tasting of the white wine Cuatro Rayas Cuarenta Vendimias Sauvignon Blanc.

Elena Martín Oyagüe will guide us. She is the successor of Ángel Calleja –also a winemaker– and worked closely with him for two decades. She signs this special selection, produced with grapes from vineyards planted in 1990, which there are four hectares now. If you have the chance to assist a Cuatro Rayas Cuarenta Vendimias live wine tasting, you will confirm that the description fits perfectly to the wine you are about to taste.

Elena knows this wine very well and, among all its qualities, she highlights the colour, a bright pale yellow colour. It also has a fresh nose, with citric fruit, mint and white flowers hints. On the palate, again, you can pick the citric fruit hints and it shows a refreshing acidity. When pairing, the range of dishes and products is as wide as consumer’s taste, but we know it never disappoints if you pair it with fish, shellfish and cold soups and creams. We hope you enjoy this wine as much as we do when we uncork a bottle. Cheers!

 

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

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.