What's New in November

The Count is here: Conde de Hervías is now in America.

When a new project takes three years to come to fruition, one has be excited. I met Iñigo “The Count” four years ago in Spain. We hit it off right away as we began to discuss winemaking in Spain and lament the lack of elegance as a general trend. He mentioned in passing that in addition to his duties as a roving winemaker for several different estates, his family owned many vineyards in Rioja Alta. These included a small parcel of pre-phylloxera vines on sandy soils known as “La Arrenosa” (arenosa meaning sandy area). I got very excited since I had been looking for some time to find a property in Rioja Alta that reflected our philosophy of buying wine from specific villages in Rioja. The following year he invited me to his family’s house - a castle, really, built by the Visigoths - to taste what would become the initial release of Conde De Hervías. Right away I realized that we were speaking the same language. The wine was harvested with great natural acidity and alcohol levels  hovering around 13 percent. It wasn’t showy, it was elegant!

Conde De Hervías is a project by Iñigo Manso de Zuñiga Ugartechea. Iñigo owns prestigious plots of old vines in Rioja Alta surrounding his home in Torremontalvo. His family has been selling to the likes of Campo Viejo for many years. When we met he told me about his idea to produce a classically styled Rioja from his oldest parcels in Rioja near his village of Torremontalvo.

The site is in the heart of Torremontalvo and many of the vines here pre-date phylloxera. These sites were planted by Don Nicanor Manso de Zuñiga, The Count of Hervías, and his brother Don Victor Cruz, founder of the oenology station of Haro. To their amazement, these vines survived due to the sandy nature of the plots. Conde de Hervías is made from a selection of these very old vines, which surround the estate and are bordered by the Ebro River.

Iñigo was trained at the University of Bordeaux in France. This training taught him to respect balance and restraint over power and concentration. His philosophy at the estate is based on harvesting ripe grapes that are not overly mature.

When the grapes are harvested early in the morning, they are transferred in small baskets to the crushing facility. They are then fermented in stainless steel tanks and transferred into new French oak. The wine is barrel aged for 16 months and fined with egg whites before being bottled.

This wine is a very limited release, only 1200 bottles are being brought to American shores this year.

From the International Wine Cellar: