Anyone going into the wine business over the last 20 years could be classified as either crazy or knowing something nobody else knew. With consumption dropping like a stone in practically all wine-producing countries, and regulation becoming stricter when it should be getting easier, can the profits from selling wine really be as tempting as that?
French internal consumption, for example, dropped 20 per cent during the 1990s, making export markets a matter of life and death. Italy, Spain and Portugal are all in the same boat. Could this be put down to over-regulation? Any winemaker wishing to use Cabernet Sauvignon in the Rhone, or Riesling in the Loire, or Chardonnay in Bordeaux, would see their wines immediately declassified and only be permitted to be sold as “French table wine”. Mad of course, but those are the rules.
Winemakers in one of the world’s newest production areas, Texas, do not enjoy the usual fairly relaxed controls typical of the USA. After Napa, Texas is the fastest- growing wine tourism destination in the US, and Texan wines get better every year. However, the legislators want to stick theirs oars in, and are planning to pass
a law obliging growers to use 100 per cent Texas-sourced grapes. Currently the amount has to be 75 per cent, as in most states.
One winery owner recently observed, “We should not reduce the ways winemakers have to make better wines.” As a guide to where the state’s wine industry could be heading, its premium boutique winery, William Chris Vineyards, produces a Mourvèdre that took a gold at the 2014 Concours International de Lyon in France.
As has been pointed out in this column on previous occasions, over-regulation does little for wineries, and in Spain particularly the 70-odd quasi-governmental regulating bodies are little more than jobs for the boys. Most of them dictate to producers what grapes can be used, and in some areas they even insist on approving every new wine before it can be put on the market.
These Consejo Reguladores are responsible for promoting their regions, but few do it in anything but an amateur and cost-ineffective manner. So it really does follow that making wine is not just a matter of leaning on the vineyard gate and watching the grapes grow. To have form is a must, and if that form is related to the administrative jungle of winemaking rules and regulations, so much the better.
FINE PEDIGREE FOR CM MORO FLAGSHIP
Carlos Mora, scion of a Rioja winemaking family going back for centuries, did not decide to go into the business until the beginning of the century. His professional career was outstanding, and in a short time after university he qualified as an agricultural engineer with a diploma in business administration, and doctorate in oenology and viticulture, as well as a diploma in economics and a master in communications technology.
For seven years he worked in the ministry of agriculture and he was later deputy secretary general in the Spanish federation of industries’ food and beverage section. Among many other official positions before starting his first winery, Carlos was a member of the Airbus intergovernmental committee.
Most wine drinkers will instantly recognise the Matarromera brand, a Ribera del Duero label that has established itself among the top names in little more than a decade. It is logical that with Carlos’s background he was not going to be satisfied with just one bodega or even one region. He progressively acquired six other wineries, among them Valdelosfrailes in Valladolid, Rento, located in an old Jesuit convent, Emina Medina in Rueda, and Cyan in Toro.
The creation of the Emina Wine Interpretation Centre in Valbuena de Duero led to the establishment of a wine museum and wine tourism complex that catapulted Emina to premier reference status in the region. In more recent years Moro founded Abrobiotec, a company dedicated to biotechnology applied to the food industry, and Esdor Cosmetics, engaged in the development and production of natural products.
There is also Matarromera USA Inc. and Sinalcohol SL He is part of the Gastronomy Academy in Valladolid and the Wine Guild of the Ribera del Duero, and is a member of the Social Council of the University of Valladolid.
In 2013 he was appointed vice president of the Wine Technology Platform, an association aimed at promoting and developing the wine sector, and also president of the Wine Route in Rueda. However, it his latest adventure into the Rioja region that has been the cherry on the cake for Carlos Moro.
The flagship wine from his new San Vicente de la Sonsierra bodega, CM Moro 2015, has one of the best pedigrees of any wine, made by a great winemaker and businessman in Spain’s major region. Of limited production from a 20-hectare vineyard, it will continue to improve in the bottle for many years.
Matarromera’s Ribera del Duero wines start with the excellent Club 2013 at around €18, and the Tinto Reservas 2010, 2012 and 2013 are around €30+. There is still some of the superb Tinto Gran Reserva 2010 left at a justifiable price of €72, and there are is a delicious barrel-fermented Verdejo 2015 at €25. The new CM Moro 2015 Rioja is good value at €17.