I hope Extremadura will never make a good Rioja

She has a vineyard’s name, Amelia, and a winery’s last name, Coloma. At age 9, she already knew how to measure the sugar content in grapes, and to play, she would hold the hose between two barrels. She became agricultural engineer in Badajoz and also got a Master Degree on Warm Weather Oenology in Sherry region.

She got training at different wineries across Spain and did wine internships along the world: from California to Bordeaux and from Australia to South-Africa.

In 1966, her grandfather and her father, both originally from Ribera del Duero, bought a land in Alvarado, Badajoz. They started to grow red grapes whereas everybody else was growing whites. They bought a bottling machine and soon started to market their wines.

In 1997, Amelia got in charge of the family winery and the 50 hectare vineyard. She focused on recovering Extremadura native grapes varieties such as: Alarije, Cayetana, Pardina, Garnacha and at the same time she pioneered in the introduction of international grape varieties such as Pinot Noir and Syrah.

Interview:

-Amelia, in your opinion, are there, so to speak, grapes considered more “manly” such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Tempranillo and also more feminine grapes like Syrah and Merlot?-

-Some critics say so, but you can actually use a “manly” grape to make a “feminine” wine and viceversa. My female friends used to complain about the fact that wines were only made to please men’s palate and asked me to make a wine that would please their taste. I then started to think about which things average women did not like in wine. I realized that most women wanted wine to be soft, velvety, silky, not very tar or tannic, fragrant but not heavy. With these ideas I came up with the conclusion that the best grape I could use for this purpose was Merlot. And that’s how I started to make Coloma Merlot Selección. But this wine not only targets women consumers but young new consumers overall, as they tend to look for more delicate wines.

-Let’s talk about grape varieties.

-My father and I noticed a long time ago that most Spanish regions were trying to emulate the success of Rioja and Ribera del Duero wines by growing Tempranillo grapes. This is not good for diversity and in the end is not good for the export marketing either, since people in India, China and other countries, they all like different style wines, and the best way to achieve this and please everybody, is growing different grape varieties. We grow 11 very different grapes and our harvest lasts from the end of July until the middle of October.

-I hope Extremadura will never make a good Rioja, instead it must create its own signature wines.

-So which grape variety is the favorite in each country?

-The German market appreciates our wines made of Merlot and Garnacha. They like our native clone of Garnacha which is very aromatic, reminding of blackcurrant and raspberry, and some years also blackberry, they also enjoy the deep dark color of the wines made from this grape. By aging the same grape in oak, we have succeeded in the Japanese market, where they love the subtle taste of roasted vanilla and incense of our Garnacha Selección.

-I heard that famous wine guru Robert Parker rated some of your wines…

-It’s true, he got some samples of our Young unoaked Garnacha Roja and rated it 87 points. When wines get over 90 points, then they get sold out very quickly and so did ours.

-Why Spaniards and Europeans are drinking less and less wine and increasingly more soft drinks?

-It’s a sad fact, wine is a drink which requires some learning, and young people have got used to just follow easy global trends. Some families took the wrong behavior of not teaching their sons and daughters how to drink wine responsibly. Some mothers even ask their husbands or parents not to drink in front of their kids, as if it was a wrong thing.  As a result, many people have changed a bottle of wine, which is a healthy traditional part of Mediterranean diet for a bottle of coke, which is loaded with unhealthy preservatives, coloring and flavoring chemicals. Studies show that people should not drink more than 330ml of these beverages, yet we all let our kids to pour themselves freely these soft drinks. To make matters worse, we need to endure this unfair traffic campaigns warning against drinking wine…as if wine was the responsible drink for all car accidents. This kind of policy is definitely wrong and has led to a worsening in the healthy conditions of European youth.

-Is it necessary or just pretentious to look, smell, shake, smell again, taste and describe a wine?-

-I think it’s something nice. You can’t do it with other food or drinks. It is elegant and people like to uncork and smell.

-When you order wine in a restaurant, do they serve the wine first to you or your male companion?

– I always say: I taste.

-What will you eat this Chrismas Eve and with which wines?

-As a starter I have decided to serve a Pinot Noir Rosé with salmon and cheese canapés and beef carpaccio.  Then we will pair stewed partridge with Garnacha Selección. My sister Helena likes to eat salt-baked Spanish fish with roasted potatoes for Chrismas. Even though it is a fish, we will pair this dish with Merlot wine because the fish has fat and oil.

-What should we do with those bottles of wines we often get as gifts, drink them or keep them until our grandson gets married?

-We all should know that unoaked white and rosé wines should be consumed within 1 or 2 years. If the vintage is 2012, then it should be drunk before 2014. For young reds we should drink them within 2-3 years of production. A Crianza style wine should drink within 4 or 5 years. Reserva around 6 to 8 years and Gran Reserva about 10 years.

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