Wine Culture Connection
Much like elsewhere in the wine world, the difficult economy has made a big impact on both the creation and consumption of wine in Spain. The challenge for highly committed, fine wine producers has been to find ways to adjust to downward spending consumers, but at the same time create wines that reflect the quality, character and integrity of the winery's higher priced offerings.
There are many strategies: such as cutting expenses to the bone and taking a big bite out of profitability, but releasing the same wines. Others release similar wines with less aging time in bottle to cut costs, but under different labels so as not to ruin the prestige of their brand when the economy finally recovers.
Others have created un-oaked young wines or wines oaked for only a few months to keep costs down and sales flowing. While others still have declassified their wines from more expensive, prestigious appellations, or employed a mix of strategies which may even vary from market to market.
For Gran Cerdo, the idea was to employ the same family vineyards as used in Orgullo, but to age the wine less time in oak, less time in bottle and without Rioja DOCa certification, which adds to the price. The result is a fruitier more easy-going wine than the more structured, more complex Orgullo.
At Orgullo each wine reflects the terroir of the estate but has its own appeal, each suited to different drinkers, moods or moments. Gran Cerdo for value and easy-going drinkability, and Orgullo for something more substantial and thought provoking.
Gonzalo Gonzalo has made significant efforts to resusitate his lands from the negative and deadening effects of prolonged use of aggressive chemicals. He has experimented with numerous alternative ways to keep his vineyards healthy without resorting to commercial chemicals and adopted numerous organic practices.
Like a growing number of winemakers, viticulturists and farmers across the globe grappling with these issues, Gonzalo Gonzalo is always on the lookout for new ways to keep his vineyards in good shape and free from harmful chemicals. Not only for the natural balance and health of his vineyards, but also for his personal health and that of his co-workers.
Gonzalo's passion and energy for creative ways to work without commercial treatments encompasses more than simply his concern for the environment and the land. It also goes straight to the heart of his work as a winemaker: the character, expression and quality of the wine he makes.
Yet there is a powerful subtext. His father became seriously ill from prolonged exposure to chemicals out in the vineyard. This is a significant motivating factor as well.
As a winemaker, his wines are a reflection of himself, his colleagues Teresa and Fernando, who work with him in the vineyards, and his family's lands. But they also represent a push toward a healthier way of working in greater harmony with nature. It is pride in the fruits of their labor that gives his wines their name, Orgullo, which is Spanish for pride.
The Horsetail and Ortiga treatments are two of the most important homeopathic or biodynamic techniques Gonzalo uses in the vineyards. They help him grow his grapes closer to their full potential and expression without longterm adverse effects to the ecological balance of his vineyards or to his own health.
Click Here to see the video clip on these natural treatments.
Orgullo & Gran Cerdo
Orgullo is his flagship wine and the namesake of his terroir-driven winery. Gran Cerdo is his iconoclast new wine made from the same family vineyards as Orgullo, but released younger and aged less time in oak, from declassified Rioja grapes—making it a tremendous value in a Rioja style, barrel-aged wine.
Gonzalo Gonzalo fiercely protects the terroir of his family vineyards and rejects market driven fashions, formulas, chemical treatments and conformism. Instead he has sought out his own methods with respect for the land, his vineyards, and the traditions of his forefathers. He balances this respect with formal training in the latest enological techniques and methods.
Gonzalo Gonzalo was born and raised in Fuenmayor in Rioja Alta, home of his family's vineyards. He studied Biology in León and then oenology at the University of La Rioja. His winemaking career began in industrial wineries, but he also traveled through France and Italy visiting small wineries. He was inspired by the independence and ingenuity of the winemakers he met at many of these unassuming countryside wineries.
In 2003 Gonzalo left the more commercial side of the wine world and began Orgullo in Fuenmayor. Orgullo is part of The Wine Love, which encompasses all his wine projects and also includes Lazarus Wine, another SWE selection.
The soil itself suffered as well, losing its vitality as seen in the deadening of the biodiversity in the vineyard. Insects, earth worms, wildflowers, snails and the various organisms of the vineyard ecosystem were no longer present as they were even two generations ago.
Orgullo — Flagship of the House
However, this restored vigor requires plenty of vigilance and creative solutions to combat the various hazards that can befall vineyards, such as mildew, mold and other pests. For this Gonzalo keeps a close watch and has revived natural treatments and organic practices used in the past to maintain healthy vineyards. For more on this see the video clip at left and our Wine Culture Connection piece on the right.
The 100% Tempranillo vineyards themselves were planted 35 years ago in the town of Fuenmayor in the La Tejera section, which is an area between groves of trees along the Ebro River and Mount San Llorente in the heart of the Rioja Alta sub-zone. The soil is calcareous clay and the vineyards are 4.5 hectares in size. Gonzalo and his helpers Teresa and Fernando methodically and with perfection in mind tend the vines year round and work only with the best grapes they can coax from the land for Orgullo.
Gran Cerdo — Young Upstart with an Attitude
A funny thing happened at the bank when securing financing to launch the new wine. Well, not very funny at all, actually. The bank said no; truly making this a wine of the times. The denial of the loan was on the basis that wine is not a seizable asset.
Undaunted, and not to be denied, Gonzalo persevered and eventually created the wine without the help of bank funding. However, the final wine does bare some influence from the bank executives that said no. They inspired the name of the wine with a bit of playful comeuppance: Gran Cerdo, which means big pig in Spanish. Fittingly, Gran Cerdo pairs well with roast pork loin, pork chops or pork sausage, among a wide range of other casual fare.
We agree with Gonzalo that some of the best things in life cannot be impounded. Be sure to click to view the back label for more of Gonzalo's amusing take on the matter.
Here are a few of the credos that make up Gonzalo's philosophy:
Gran Cerdo LOT#2010 Vino de Mesa Red $12 –
Orgullo 2007 Rioja DOCa $22 –
Orgullo 2006 Rioja DOCa – Sold Out
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