If you have spent any time with winemakers, whether socially or commercially, you will have to admit they are different from other people. What occupies their waking hours, and probably dreaming hours as well, is the passionate desire to make a better wine than anyone else.
Of course we can rule out the mega-producers for whom wine is a commodity to be sold in as great a volume as possible; and, providing its value equates roughly to its sale price, both supplier and customer are happy. But fortunately there are enough artisan winemakers to fill a couple of Armadas, and enough large companies (Torres springs to mind) that have the same passion for selling a superior product at as fair a price as any craft winemaker. In some cases the passion may be misplaced. What do you do when a winemaker proudly opens a bottle of his star product and proceeds to dispense it as if it were liquid gold – but it tastes awful? You were really looking forward to something better, and as the hopeful progenitor watches your face for signs of delirious pleasure, how do you hide the twinge of disappointment? Any wine lover will have a standard vocabulary for such occasions, ranging from the safe “Mmmmm… very interesting”, to the riskier, “Er, not quite what I anticipated”, or the downright wicked, “Wow, that’s a knockout! I am not surprised it’s so hard to find…” So when you make that decision to set up a winery, you don’t actually have to worry too much about it being overly hands-on. There is always a plentiful selection of very good oenologists available for hire, part-time if you cannot afford full-time, and before you make your final selection you can easily check out the wines they made at the bodegas they previously worked for, and even read the critics’ views of their creations on the internet. You do of course have to fund the entire operation, which, as Richard Golding found out, can be an act of the utmost faith. As a marketing professional with many years’ experience working for multinational companies in the UK, Richard succumbed to the charms of the Sierras de Grazalema in Cádiz province, and from the start he believed this was the place where world-beating wines could be made. Probably a rather silly idea to most people back then, but nearly two decades later the evaluation can be shown to have been a prophecy. Richard and his daughter Natalia had luck on their side. The province of Cádiz – once famous exclusively for its white wines made from the Palomino grape, of which nearly all went, and indeed still go, to the centuries-old sherry houses in Jerez de la Frontera – now boasts some of the most forward-looking bodegas in Spain. From nil wineries making red table wine a few years ago, there are now around 30, and the first thing you have to do is forget those old fogeys Messrs Rioja and Ribera del Duero. The new Cádiz wines are in a class of their own, and anyone who loves to experiment and has not yet tried any of these fascinating reds, whites and even a few rosados, should catch up fast. The rapidly-growing list includes names like Gibalbín, Forlong, Cobijado, Quadis, Ibargüen, Maurer, Etú, Sancha Pérez, Cía Vinos del Atlántico, Vinifícate, Taberner, González Palacios, Luis Pérez, Ramiro Ibañez, Miguel Domecq and Taramilla, most of them regrettably not making enough wine to satisfy the demand, and selling everything they produce in a matter of months. Tesalia and Arx, the two wines made by the Goldings at their bodega near Arcos de La Frontera, may be among the best examples of this new wave. Master winemaker Ignacio de Miguel and professor José Ramón Lissarrague have collaborated with Dutch master of wine Cees van Casteren, using grape varieties Petit Verdot, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and the classical local grape, Tintilla de Rota, all hand-harvested at night. For the flagship wine, Tesalia, 6,000 bottles have to be enough to satisfy demand for the 2015 vintage, and it costs around €30. The second wine, Arx (2016), is a straight blend of Petit Verdot and Tintilla, and sells for around €19. Both wines are available direct from the winery (www.bodegatesalia.com) or from www.licorescorredera.es.
By Andrew J Linn