Madrid Fusión


Six great Spanish winemakers open the master tasting sessions at Madrid Fusión The Wine Edition

Laura S. Lara


The first master tasting session at Madrid Fusión The Wine Edition has been run by Norrel Robertson MW, who has gone on a tour around the world in search of the very best garnachas on the planet for those present. 

In his presentation, Robertson has selected two Spanish references (one from Aragon and another from Catalonia), a hundred-year-old garnacha from California, two from old vineyards in South Africa and Australia, and a 100% Châteauneuf-du-Pape garnacha. 

This tasting session, the first one at the latest Madrid Fusión Alimentos de España wine congress, has provided an unique representation of the most important garnacha producing countries in the world, which has reflected the wide range of styles of wine that can be obtained from a grape that has become fashionable in the last ten years. “Garnacha is trendy, but as wine professionals it is our responsibility to defend this variety”, the Master of Wine affirmed.

In this regard, Norrel Robertson has reviewed the characteristics that mark out the singular nature of this variety, the nuances that it may acquire depending on the different climates and terroirs in which it is planted, and the styles of wine that currently exist in producing garnachas in the world.

One of the most eagerly awaited tasting sessions at the congress has been the one that has put the finishing touch to the day’s events on Monday at the Madrid Fusión The Wine Edition. “The eternal vineyard: the great reserve wine before becoming one” is the title of the master tasting session provided by Pedro Ballesteros MW to close the afternoon: some interesting reflections that have to do with people, with ways of making wine both in the vineyard and in the winery, even with the grape itself. 
Pedro Ballesteros has tried to show the elements that you can find in a wine while it is still young to be able to ensure that it will become a great wine as time goes by. To do this he has been helped by representatives from five great Spanish wineries: María José López de Heredia (CEO of Viña Tondonia), Miguel Torres Maczassek (Director General manager of Familia Torres), Guillermo de Aranzábal (President of La Rioja Alta S.A.), Peter Sisseck (Dominio de Pingus), Pablo Álvarez (CEO of Vega Sicilia) and Alfonso Hurtado de Amézaga (General manager of Marqués de Riscal).

In Ballesteros’s own words: “you need the human factor to understand how a fruit is transformed into a drink and this drink into a memory, this is the wine factor”. 

“It is very important to maintain the personality that wines have, and you can do this even if you evolve. It’s good that the world of wine evolves, but that basically nothing changes, the CEO of Vega Sicilia, Pablo Álvarez, said while he served one of his great premier wines.

“You need to be daring to start a project, but when you form part of the fourth generation you need to be persistent”, the CEO of Viña Tondonia, María José López de Heredia added. They were able to taste a 2019 vintage from the Rioja winery that will be, in time, a Great Reserve wine. “The grape needs to be really good, as does the selection, you need to keep an eye on the cork, but there’s nothing worse for the wine maker than a wine with great potential”.

Familia Torres has taken part in this master tasting session with a wine that, as Ballesteros described, “is destined to improve over decades, a subtle, complex Priorat that highlights the terroir and the recovery of varieties”. Miguel Torres Maczassek, General Manager of the winery, has stressed the singularity and value that the Mas de la Rosa vineyard has to produce great wines.

“Our sole aim is to give pleasure and to do this we make wines that give the most pleasure”, Guillermo de Aranzábal, President of La Rioja Alta S.A. affirmed. “Good wine improves with ageing, because it’s a feeling, not a product”. 

“We can’t follow fashions, but we can follow trends. And in our case we have adapted wines correctly, and maintained the brand’s personality. Wines now emerge much fresher, with a great potential for ageing”, he added.

For his part, the General Manager of Marqués de Riscal, Alfonso Hurtado de Amézaga, wanted to stress the importance of the archives at his winery when it comes to understanding how it Rioja wine has evolved over the years. A useful guide for understanding so as not to commit errors looking towards the future.

Peter Sisseck, the founder of Dominio de Pingus, has rounded off this master tasting session that has provided a ‘crystal ball’ to try and predict the future of some of the best Spanish wines in their youth. “Pingus isn’t a winery, it’s a vineyard”, the wine expert pointed out. “As time goes by you learn, and the great wineries are great because they have had a long time to learn”.






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