Ahead of our focus on Rioja, CellarVie Wines interviewed CVNE (Cune) winemaker Maria Larrea to discuss her winemaking philosophy, her experiences in the industry, and her passions outside of wine…
Describe yourself and your attitude to Winemaking in three words…
Dynamic, sociable and in love with my job.
Briefly describe your wines…
Quality, elegance and terroir
Describe the CVNE philosophy and your approach to winemaking…
CVNE is a family company with 132 years of history, so first and foremost, I have to reflect its philosophy and guard its traditions in my winemaking, whilst adapting to new technologies and new market developments.
My main aim is to keep CVNE’s tradition as a producer of high quality wines with provenance.
When I am making my wines, and I seem to have found one I like, I always try to put myself in any consumer’s place and try to find out if he or she is going to enjoy it, ideally to remember it, and hopefully to have it again.
What wines are CVNE responsible for making?
CVNE Blanco, CVNE Rosado, Blanco Monopole, Blanco Corona Semidulce, CVNE Crianza, CVNE Reserva, Imperial Reserva, Imperial Gran Reserva, Real de Asua.
How did you get involved in the winemaking world?
My experience started during my education as a winemaker at the Faculty of Viticulture and Enology in Madrid, and later on in France, although I originally come from Rioja, an area which is very strongly linked to land and wine.
My family and my environment have always been very much in contact with viticulture and winemaking.
In France, I worked in two very different regions: in Bordeaux and in Languedoc. When I came back to Spain I did some research work, also read Enology and Viticulture, and worked in several Spanish DO’s like Rioja, Navarra and La Mancha.
The wealth of experience I gathered in different winemaking areas, different companies, with different varieties and different wines was very valuable both from the personal as well as from the professional points of view.
What are your main passions outside of wine?
I love to travel and to get to know other different cultures, and I try to do this as often as possible. My hobbies are outdoor sports, reading, and getting together with family and friends.
If you didn't make wine what would you do?
I would probably be a biologist or would work in with animals
What is your favourite meal?
I am very lucky to enjoy everything when it comes to food, especially if it comes paired with good wines. I try to get to know the typical dishes of the areas I travel to, and my choice of food really depends on the moment and the situation.
Describe a day in the life of Maria Larrea
A normal day at work in the winery starts early reviewing the day’s agenda and establishing priorities. Often, I set up a morning meeting with my staff to get organised and in any case, we always do a daily tasting of our wines, which is the most important issue when making our blends.
I usually double check the analytical data of our wines, both in tank and in cask. We also regularly check supplier of our bottles and other external dry goods. Additionally, we usually attend customer visits and tastings.
Supplier control is becoming increasingly significant, especially when it comes to barrels and corks. As both are in contact with our wines for a long time maintaining appropriate quality levels is very important.
I try to attend enology meetings and tastings to keep up to speed with research and development that may be of use to CVNE, and also to be updated and aware of the other wines in the market.
During the harvest season work is more intense due to the need to keep a close eye on CVNE’s extensive own vineyard holding, as well as all the daily maturity controls that we have to carry out at this time of year.
Good quality grapes and a timely harvest are essential to the quality of the resulting wine.
In addition to this, must fermentations have to be supervised closely, as well as the ageing in barrel and bottle, fining, racking, filtration and stabilization of our wines for all of the rest of the year.
In my opinion, working as a winemaker is demanding but rewarding because above all, wine is a natural product. It is alive, so to be in a hurry when making wine is just as wrong as being in a hurry when drinking it!
La Compañía Vinícola del Norte de España (The Northern Spanish Wine Company) (CVNE) was founded by two brothers, Raimundo and Eusebio Real de Azúa in Haro, in La Rioja in 1979. An early misspelling of CVNE resulted in the company being commonly referred to as Cune.
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