Tuesday, 28 October 2014

An Interesting Interview with Ramiro Ibañez Espinar

Ramiro Ibañez Espinar has degrees in agriculture and oenology. Born in Sanlucar, he began his career in the Sherry zone before going off to other wine producing areas of Spain and other countries. Now back, and after working for various bodegas he has decided to become a winemaking and viticulture consultant, doing much research, especially into vineyards. He has produced an interesting wine which he calls “Encrucijado 2012. His latest idea is looking for the “Real” Palo Cortado. Here is an interview with him in Mas Jerez with fellow Jerez oenologist, Reyes Gomez:

Ramiro with his Encrucijado (foto + jerez)
What exactly is Encrucijado 2012?
It is an artisan vintage wine aged under flor. It is made with Palomino Fino and five other native varieties which historically played a minor role and may have helped the natural development of Palo Cortado. Basically, it is a very young Palo Cortado.

It is Sherry, but outside the DO?
It cannot be a DO wine because it uses grapes which, although they are as old and historic as the Palomino, are no longer included in the Reglamento.

What are the Pros and Cons of going it alone?
The freedom gives one more knowledge, and access to different soils, grape varieties, wines, different vinifications, and the possibility of getting to know the great unknown personalities of Jerez vitiviniculture who have a treasure trove of wisdom. On the other hand, one’s diary is full and one covers considerable distances, but that’s fine.

You are committing yourself to the recuperation of the individual Jerez vineyards. Is that where the future lies?
For a very long time there have been Sherries on whose labels the Pago (vineyard area) or actual vineyard where they came from were indicated. Many others could have done this but chose not to. And of course these wines have an outstanding pedigree. Looking through the thousands of years of history of what is now the Sherry area, you can see that the one common denominator in all these thirty centuries is our soil, the albariza. During this time all sorts of grape varieties white and red have come and gone, dry wines, sweet wines, unfortified wines. Not even biological ageing, oxidative ageing and the solera system, which only appeared in the last couple of hundred years, could be considered indispensable. However much all the civilisations which have passed through here improved the wines grown on albariza, our soil will have something special independently of the grape and winemaking technique. So somehow some of us are trying to put the importance of the albariza area and its individual vineyards back on the map. At least some bodegas recognise this importance.

Now THAT'S Albariza! (foto + Jerez)
Are hand-made individual wines valued in the area?
Such wines are made by artisans all over the area, some are fantastic, some not so good, but they all have personality and express their origin. Hopefully we will see before too long lots of small, quality producers like in France.

With which dish would you match Encrucijado 2012?
Baked sea bass, shellfish soup, duck pate, gilthead baked in salt or any Asian dish.

Any future projects, or are your hands full with Encrucijada?
In a few weeks I’ll be releasing an artisan white wine from one of the oldest single vineyards in the area made from Palomino, but here there are still old pre clonal revolution vines.There is a lot to do, and many projects in the pipeline.

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