30 de abril de 2013

Rioja's Historic Wineries - Bodegas Berberana

The firm was founded in 1877 by the family of Martínez Berberana, and the original small building in the village of Ollauri near Haro is still used as a botlle store for maturing the wines. It was bought by Melquíades Entrena shortly after he had sold Bodegas Entrena to A.G.E. in 1967, and in 1972 he embarked on the construction of a modern bodega in Cenicero, which, with its average annual production of 20 million bottles, was to become one of the largest in the Rioja.

Apart from its 130 hectares of vineyards in the Rioja Alta, Berberana next embarked on ambitious new plantations of some 900 hectares at Monte Yerga near Aldeanueva del Ebro in the Rioja Baja, where a high proportion of Tempranillo and Viura are grown, in addition to the Garnacho typical of the area. The company was sold to RUMASA in 1982 and, like the other properties of the expropriated combine, was Government controlled.

The elegant new plant opposite the railway-station in Cenicero incorporates batteries of modern, temperature-controlled steel fermentation tanks lined with epoxy resin and a huge ageing floor acoodating 40.000 oak barricas.

All of the red wines were made from the same basic blend of 80 per cent Tempranillo, 10 per cent Garnacho, 5 per cent Graciano and 5 per cent Mazuelo. They differed according to the quality of the fruit - the best being used frot the gran reserva, reserva and "Carta de Oro" - and the tie spent in barrica and bottle. All were big and fruity.

The biggest-selling of the wines in Spain was the popular 2º Año red "Preferido", wich was not aged in wood and spent only a short period in bottle. The better wines were well-known in the United Kingdoms, thanks to energetic promotion by the former shippers, González Byass & Co. The Quality of the 3º Año "Carta de Plata" was always criticized in Spain itself, but the wine shipped abroad was given adequate time in oak. The "Carta de Oro" was fuller and more mature, and the best vintages of the excellent fruity reserva were 1966, 1970, 1974, 1975, 1976 and 1978.

Berberana also produced a pleasant white "Carta de Plata", made from 90 per cent Viura and 10 per cent Malvasía, unaged in oak. As its best the fresh fruity nose and flavour last throughout the glass, but the quality was somewhat variable, and we drank bottles where they did not and the finish was flabby.

Wines tasted:
 Berberana Cosecha Especial 1964 Gran Reserva - 97/100 p. - April 2013

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