About Me

Gavin Hubble - (BSc & Post Grad. Business Marketing) - I started working in the wine industry over 23 years ago in New Zealand. Working in; wine retail, sales, wine production, label & packaging design, marketing, wine buying, consulting and wine education. I am responsible for the Brand Health of 60+ wine brands distributed here in New Zealand. Wine Brands from New Zealand, Australia, France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Chile and Argentina. I work closely with the Trade Industry - (Retail Stores & Restaurants) introducing, educating and positioning exciting and unique brands to wine enthusiasts all over the world.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Winemaker Series:

Welcome to another in the series of winemaker interviews.
Fernando Gómez is the chief winemaker at the internationally acclaimed Marqués de Caceres winery - based in Spain's most renowned wine region Rioja.
Marqués de Caceres is unanimously recognised as the leading producer of quality Rioja and one of the best ambassadors for Spanish wines worldwide. With their brilliant vineyard sites in the Rioja Alta, they are exclusively focused on high quality Rioja and are one of the best-selling wines from Spain.


Marqués de Caceres was founded in 1970 by the Forner family and is considered largely responsible for the renaissance in Rioja that has occurred over the past few decades. The Forner family, one of the region's most innovative producers - introduced to Rioja the most up-dated winemaking techniques and practices, fully respecting the local ‘terroir’ and grape varieties, mainly Tempranillo and Grenache for red wines. The result was a new style of Rioja, with rich concentration and a subtle balance between ripe fruit and discreet oak; colourful, harmonious and velvety wines, full of finesse and elegance, always balanced and ready to drink when released to the market. The traditional Crianza, Crianza Riserva and Crianza Grand Riserva, made from Grenache and Tempranillo command international acclaim and deliver a defining expression of Spanish red wine.
I had the pleasure to visit the winery (after driving 5 hours from Barcelona to Logroño) and meet Fernando and the passionate team in Rioja back in 2008. The dramatic surrounding landscape, vineyards, immense barrel halls, the expressive wines and the diversity of the local cuisine have never left me.

What first attracted you to the wine industry and as a winemaker?
I was born in Rioja Alta and, since I was a child, I was happy working with my father who was a winegrower.  I loved spending time with him in the vineyards where I used to help him to look after the vines and share great experiences together.  At a time when most of the growers were looking to increase production, I learned from my father the secrets on how to produce quality.  He taught me how important it is to keep old vines rather than replace them to produce more.  I also had the privilege of enjoying the superb landscape, which surrounds us, with its mountain views, and the effects produced by light that causes shadows during the different stages of the day.  When I grew up, I moved to Bilbao, our nearest big city, to work as an industrial technician.  In 1970, I heard about Marqués de Cáceres, the winery founded by Mr. Enrique Forner next to my village, that same year.  My dream to get back to my roots came true, as he offered me the opportunity to work with him in the winemaking and viticultural processes.
Where and when did you study winemaking?
Mr. Forner taught me everything about making wine.  I also attended conferences on matters of interest to help me improve my experience.  Above all, I believe that my motivation and sense of modesty have been the best tools in fulfilling most of my personal and professional commitments.
Which person has influenced you the most as a winemaker and why?
Mr. Forner was my teacher and the example I decided to follow.  He was a special character who was obliged to immigrate to France during the Spanish Civil War at the end of 1936.  When he established Marqués de Cáceres, he chose the very heart of Rioja Alta for the production of a new style of red wines.  At that time, most of the red wines from Rioja were over-oaked, whilst the whites and rosés were almost oxidised.  Breaking with this local tradition, he made red wines with more colour and more fruit, and fresh white and rosé wines with a fruity character.  He considered that the Marqués de Cáceres brand had to be built on consistency in quality.
What is your favourite grape variety to work with and why?
From experience, I like working with the Tempranillo grape.  Throughout my profession, I’ve been able to anticipate how Tempranillo will respond in different circumstances as regards climate, soil, exposure to the sun and the age of the vineyards.  My knowledge of this grape’s potential in every harvest has enabled me to interpret its singularity.  Besides, Tempranillo adapts very well to our area due to the diverse climate and moderate rainfall that enables it to mature nicely with its typically elegant tannins.  It also produces wines that marry well with all types of gastronomy, with structure and finesse that don’t overpower the flavours of the food.  I love Tempranillo, for it produces wines to enjoy with pleasure.
Which grape variety would you most like to work with in the future and why?
I would like to blend Tempranillo with other varieties in smaller proportions.  I have actually been experimenting for several years now with Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz.  I’ve been producing tiny quantities of wines from small parcels authorized by our DO for the planting of different grape varieties for experimental purposes.  These represent only a few hectares here in Rioja.  I need more experience to appreciate the potential in certain vintages but I like the structure that these two varieties add to wine.  I’ve also been experimenting for many years now with Graciano in which I’m more experienced and I’m already blending this variety in our red wines.  Please let me remind you that our DO only authorises the use of indigenous grapes, which for red wines, are Tempranillo, Graciano, Garnacha and Mazuelo.  All other varieties are planted on an experimental basis so as to maintain the typicality of the wines from Rioja that date back thousands of years.
With each new vintage what do you most look forward to?
Every harvest, I like discovering the singularity of each little parcel of land.  Each time round is a new experience for me to extract the best characteristics from the grapes.  I see each harvest as an opportunity for me to reveal in full the character of our wines.  Each year is a new responsibility and an active experience, for we are in nature’s hands and we have to adapt to the circumstances to produce the best possible grapes.  Every moment of the day is, therefore, crucial: hand-picking the grapes, the selection process, vinification, etc.
To date, what has been your most interesting/challenging vintage and why?
1970 was my first and most challenging vintage.  Challenging, for it was my first experience and I knew that, as a new bodega with an innovative style of wines, everyone would be judging the results.  Besides it was the very first wine that we would launch.  We couldn’t afford to make any mistakes.  This was also the first link in that tandem that I formed with Mr. Forner for more than 40 years and I couldn’t let him down, although at that time, he supervised 100% every single task I had to perform using his vast professional experience.
Which person ‘current’ or past would you most like to have met or meet and why?
I was very impressed on meeting Professor Emile Peynaud.  I can recall his expertise as our consultant in the initial stages, almost unheard of in Rioja at that time.  He was a man who demanded respect but, at the same time, was an approachable character who loved talking about the land and had a special interest in Rioja.  It was actually he who helped Mr. Forner choose Rioja and initiate the Marqués de Cáceres project.  I was very young at the time and, on observing and listening to Professor Peynaud, I realised I still had a long way to go!  I remember being very shy, for he seemed so influential, whilst I was just starting out and had very little professional experience.
If you were stranded on a desert island and you could take one bottle of wine with you - what would it be and why?
I would take the wines from the vintages in which my son and daughter were born.  It would be the ideal time and place (although with a fridge to enjoy the wines at the correct temperature…!!!!)  to recall these happy times in a peaceful setting and with the impression that time goes by more slowly on a desert island.
If you could make wine anywhere else in the world - where would it be and why?
I would venture into the unknown, for example China, an emerging market for both production and consumption.  It would be a new challenge for me, in studying to acquire adequate knowledge before departure and in experiencing a new world as regards, climate, grape varieties, i.e. a whole new culture for me.  A move that I would try to get as much out of as possible to overcome all the difficulties.
What advise would you give a young person starting out as a winemaker?
I would advise young people starting out, to never believe that they know everything, for there is something new to learn every day for as long as they live.  Hard work, conviction, modesty.
When you are not making wine - what is one of your favourite things to do to relax?
I like spending time with my family and friends.  Cooking and gardening are hobbies that go hand in hand with wine: human relations, cooking and being able to cultivate my own little vegetable garden to obtain the finest products.  I agree with respecting the environment and the ecological culture.  I think I can boast about producing the most flavoursome tomatoes in this area and delicious green vegetables that I grill and serve with good quality olive oil.  I find all of this relaxing and enjoyable whilst savouring some good wine.
In the future, what exciting changes can you see, or would you like to see for your wines, wine styles, vineyard or winery?
I would like to further increase our range of wines from Rioja.  We are in fact working on this and have already achieved a few successful launches.  This year, we will introduce a young, ecological wine made from 90% Tempranillo and 10% Graciano (these grapes have, in fact, represented a good part of my experiments and come from a single vineyard that is cultivated ecologically to respect the natural environment).  Two years ago, we also launched a wine from outside Rioja, a white Albariño from Rias Baixas, called Deusa Nai, which is exquisite on tasting with a mineral and citrus character.  We continue to work on new opportunities to consolidate our quality image with wines of character so as enrich our current range of wines.
Marqués de Caceres are available in New Zealand and around the world from quality wine retailers and restaurants.
Or visit the website: Marqués de Caceres

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