GRAPES WINE VISITS
rolling hills and vineyards near Barolo, Italy. Photo copyright 2013 by David L. Bauer; used by permission.
The staff at Grapes pride ourselves on learning about the wineries we represent. Our travels often involve visits to the wineries whose products you'll find on our shelves. On this page we feature some of the wineries we've been privileged to visit.
VEGLIO (in Diano d'Alba, Piedmont, Italy)
We were first introduced to Veglio in early 2013 when one of our smaller distributors presented their wines to us. We were impressed with the quality of these wines that we could offer at very attractive prices, and we initially stocked Veglio's Nebbiolo and Barbaresco. Since then we have also added a nice Barolo from Veglio. Our sales associate Dave visited Veglio in September 2013 to meet the people who produce the wines.
Veglio produces 200,000 bottles annually, but at the time of our visit they were in the midst of expanding the winery at the right side of the building above to accommodate more production and aging facilities and to add a more formal tasting and sales room. Of these 200,000 bottles, approximately 30,000 to 35,000 of them are Barolo, which is aged for two years in Slovenian oak, and then for an additional 4 to 5 months in bottle prior to release. In addition to 25 states in the USA, Veglio also distributes their wines in Canada, Brazil, France, Turkey, Norway, Denmark, Poland, China, Korea and Japan. As you can see above, Veglio makes a huge variety of wines, many of which are not available in the Colorado market.
Our host on the left, the brother-in-law of the owner, showed us through the facility. Here he explains the operation of their €30,000 filter. Note also the unusual fiberglass tanks in the background that Veglio uses for storage of finished wine prior to bottling. These tanks have moving caps that rise and sink according to the level of the wine in the tank, eliminating air contact while preserving the wine until it can be bottled and labeled according to the needs of their worldwide distributors. On the right, Vegliio's winemaker joins us for a glass of Barolo, and offers samples of his mother's treasured handmade aged cheese for us to sample with his wine.
AZELIA (in Castiglione Falletto, Piedmont, Italy)
Grapes Wiine Market has been carrying Azelia's Barolo wine for quite some time. Our sales associate Dave visited the winery in September 2013 to meet the people who produce the wines. We arrived during harvest; the Dolcetto grapes were being brought in, destemmed and pumped into the roto-fermenters during our visit.
Standing by the empty grape bins and overseeing the operation in the left photo is Azelia's winemaker, Luigi Scavino. The crusher/destemmer in the left photo had obviously been busy that morning with the Dolcetto harvest! From there, the grapes are pumped into one of the roto-fermenters shown on the right. These fermenters are somewhat unusual in that they can be programmed to gently rotate the fermenting grapes. Most wineries don't make investments in this type of equipment, relying instead on stationary tanks where the grape caps that rise to the top are either punched down into the wine periodically, or the juice is pumped over the cap periodically. Azelia's roto-fermenters give much better control over this process and allow for the exact amount of rotation to give the winemaker his desired level of skin contact.
Our host for the visit was Lorenzo Scavino, Luigi's son. Lorenzo is a university-trained enologist himself, and speaks perfect English. Lorenzo explained that Azelia ferments the wines in the rotofermenters above for 12 to 15 days, then pumps them into custom-designed square storage tanks inside the winery, seen in the photo on the right. These tanks were designed as a space-conserving measure, as Azelia's winery building is quite small and the family doesn't want to expand beyond their historical site. They choose not to filter the wine to preserve its delicacy. Azelia uses six or seven French coopers for their small light-toasted barrels used to age their Barolo; 20% of the barrels are replenished annually.
After giving us a tour of the property, Lorenzo presented their six wines for tasting. Azelia's production capacity is about 80,000 bottles annually, all red. They make a Dolcetto, a Langhe Nebbiolo, a Barolo, and three different vineyard-designated Barolos that showcase the different terroirs of those three vineyards.
Bodegas Luzón (in Jumilla, Spain)
Grapes Wine Market has been carrying wines from Luzón for quite some time. Jumilla, an area in eastern Spain south of Valencia, is well-known for its Monastrell, a grape better known as Mourvedre in the USA and in France. The regular Luzón bottling, a blend of Monastrell and Syrah, is one of our favorite under-$10 wines to recommend to our customers. We also carry their organic Luzón Verde 100% Monastrell wine as well as their up-market Crianza blend and Altos de Luzon blend, which is another staff favorite. Our staff member Dave visited the winery in Jumilla in March 2013.
Our host for the visit was Isidoro Perez de Tudela, the winery's commercial director and export manager, shown on the right. He guided us through the large production facility. Luzón is a large winery by Spanish standards; they produce seven million bottles annually, although many of those are lower level private-label wines marketed in supermarkets in Europe. The fine wines exported in the Luzón line represent about one million bottles of that total. Isidoro explained that the Luzón line of wines is designed specifically to appeal to the North American wine consumer, with a fresh, ripe fruity style. While the wines are available in Spain, he stressed that building the brand overseas is the winery's first priority.
Luzón boasts a large modern production facility. These are just some of the large storage tanks and barrel used to produce and age their wines. Luzón holds back their upper-tier wines for several years; in late 2013 we were just beginning to receive Luzón's 2009 vintage Crianza and Altos reds at Grapes to sell to our customers.
Have you ever wondered how boxed wine packages are filled? The cream-colored machine shown above does the work. Wine is pumped into the box's bladder and inserted into the box by the device. Although the process requires somewhat more labor than an automated bottling line (seen on the left), Isidoro explained that it was actually quite efficient in operation. At the conclusion of our tour, winemaker Luis Sanchez Sanchez met with us for an hour to taste different vintages of his wines and to discuss the differences in vineyards, vintages, and production techniques that he uses on his different wines.