Thousands of years ago the Rioja region was inhabited by the Berones; warriors who called their land Beronia. In 1973 the winery Bodegas Beronia was founded; named in tribute to the fighters of this beautiful land. It was founded on a passion for fine food and high quality wines and is now famous for red wines.
This is what I learned in a recent encounter with Matias Calleja Ujarte, the technical director from Beronia in a recent passagein Montreal. Senor Calleja was in a road trip with Cristopher Canale-Parola, the Area Manager for Canada for Gonzalez Byass. Beronia form part of this celebrated family of wine domains since 1982
Beronia is famous for the experimentation with different types of oak. Matias was one of the first wine makers to experiment with an assortment of barrels and types of wood from different countries. He was also one of the first to try mixed oak barrels using French oak heads and American oak staves. Since 1973, the efforts of Matias has helped the signature style of Beronia, a mid point between the traditional and modern Rioja.
We tasted a number of wines available in the Canadian Market. For me the highlight of the tasting were the different samples of wines made with American and French wood that illustrated well the expertise of Beronia in the area of wood aging. Not to forget the legendary 1973 Gran Reserva that we tasted. This was a very much alive wine and makes wonder if Rioja could ever again make wines with this track record of longevity.
Another interesting wine tasted was the Rueda bottling. Gonzalez Byass has decided to invest in Rueda to demonstrate the potential of the area. The project has been led with Matias and Beatriz Paniagua. I was very surprised to learn by Matias that their Rueda is a 100% monovarietal Verdejo, something that it is rare to see as most Ruedas are blended with Sauvignon Blanc. Like I said before, the inclusion of Sauvignon Blanc blurs the character of the Verdejo and in consequence the terroir of Rioja.
Beronia Rueda Verdejo 2016 LCBO # Vintages: 461327. 2015 was retailing at $11.25. In Quebec, private import by Univins
Lots of green apple, pear and lemon yogurt character with delicate herbaceous nuances. Medium body, refreshing with flavors of confit grapefruit. Very harmonious finale. The wine to have with crab cakes or fried calamari.
Beronia Tempranillo 2014. LCBO # 243055. 2013 was retailing for $13.95. Available soon in Quebec
Cofee, chocolate and prunes in brandy. Noble tones of wood. Full body with supple tannins. Flavors of cherry bomb and halzenut cream. Long. Pair with beef stuffed peppers. Amazing quality for a joven wine, steering toward a crianza.
Beronia Reserva Roble Americano 2014 ( Experimental sample)
Lots of spiced black fruit and irish cream. On the mouth, structured with a medium acidity and fleshy tannins. On the palate classic american oak flavors such as coconut and orange peel. For many, the flavors of American oak could be an adquired taste but I enjoy fondly the style
Reserva Roble Frances 2014 ( Experimental sample)
Very spicy nose. Vanilla and Cinnamon with mineral nuances such as iron and black damson plums. On the mouth, fruit driven with tannins quite accessible. Well balanced.
Reserva Roble Mixto 2014 ( Experimental sample)
Intriguing nose with cloves and chinese orange. Cola and black fruit. Balanced with a round texture. Very elegant. The best of both worlds
Beronia Reserva 2012. SAQ # 11667231. $20.55. LCBO Vintages: 50203. $20.95
On the nose, smoke and espresso beans. Nice minerality. Voluminous in the mouth with earthy and elegant flavors. Tannins needs a few years to be resolved. One of the best reservas available in the Canadian market. Pair it with braised deer with vegetables.
Beronia Gran Reserva Rioja 2008. LCBO Vintages: 940965. $37.95
Sour cherry, dark olives in brine, prunes in eau de vie. Structured with mature tannins. Well balanced and elegant. Pair it with grilled lamb chops.
Beronia Gran Reserva 1994.
Very earthy showing a stream of tertiary aromas. It actually brought to mind mushrooms, fish sauce and other vegetable nuances. Some of the participants though that the wine was corked but what it actually needed was some time to open it up.
Beronia Gran Reserva 1973
Gorgeous wine. Full of live and vitality. Tones of coffee, moka with dry orange peel. On the mouth, very subdued with retronasal flavors of bark wood. Fully mature tannins. Amazing wine. It was verging towards an old noble Burgundy.