The Finca Valpiedra vineyard lies at an altitude of 400 metres on a spectacular bend of the River Ebro, between the municipal boundaries of Cenicero and Fuenmayor. The stony soil of this 80 hectares vineyard lies at the heart of the quest to make exceptional quality wine in Rioja. The size of this vineyard is unusual in Rioja where almost all vineyards cover less than 2 hectares. Their mission is to produce a wine of one single vineyard with the aim of achieving the maximum potential from this vineyard each year.
Over 100 years of experience in La Rioja endorse the traditional methods used by the Martinez Bujanda family, owners of Valpiedra, in their wine making. However, a tour of their bodegas quickly demonstrates to the visitor that their facilities are amongst the most modern and technologically advanced in Europe.
In 1889 Joaquin Martinez Bujanda vinified his first wines in a small building in Oyon. Today, this building has been restored and houses a wine museum which serves as a testimony to the history of this family.
In 1927, his successor, Marcelino Martinez Bujanda, extended the vineyard and started the process of ageing wines. However, it was in 1981, when Joaquin's grandson, Jesus Martinez Bujanda, made the most notable advances, laying the foundations which have enabled the Company to prosper. The vineyard holdings were extended and building work began on the present-day bodega. Designed by his son Jesus, the bodega was considered to be one of the most modern and advanced of its time; a view still held today. Nowadays, his children, JesÃºs, Pilar and Carlos run the business and carry on the family tradition of investment and expansion
In 1991, the Finca Valpiedra was inaugurated; this bodega, with its 80 hectares of prime vineyards, and one of the most advanced wineries in Rioja, is now the flagship of the Martinez Bujanda family
When vintage time comes around in September an assessment of each division of the vineyard indicates the order in which the picking will take place, which in turn depends on the ripeness of the grapes which don't all develop at the same speed. The vineyard may be picked over up to three times during the vintage.
To avoid transporting the grapes over any distance in the heat, the vinification takes place on the estate itself. Grapes can be pressed within minutes of being cut from the vine. In Finca Valpiedra hand picking followed by a strict selection regime ensures that only the fruit ready for wine making is allowed into the pressing house. Grape juices are gently treated and flow by gravity avoiding the need to use mechanical pumps.
Controlled fermentation is made more efficient by the use of small-sized tanks and constant monitoring and adjustment of cooling equipment. When the harvest quality of a particular year permits, the maceration process is deliberately prolonged, perhaps for up to 3 weeks, a routine not normally followed in the region.
When fermentation reaches its conclusion it is time to allow the wine to rest in oak barrels for the lengthy and vital time when the liquid takes on the unique character that will preserve flavours and aromas for so many years. The barrels are new and made of French oak which the Finca knows from experience will not dominate the wine's natural flavours, rather help to enhance its subtlety.
Between 18 and 22 months the new wines in barrels will be kept in a quiet and peaceful cellar while the flavours and aromas gradually marry, and be constantly tasted by the cellarmaster to check their progress. Overall the wine is legally required, if nominated as Reserva, to be kept for at least for a total of 3 years in bottle and barrel, with a minimum 12 months in each. The Finca Valpiedra ageing cellar with its 4,000 new barrels is more like a five star hotel ballroom than a bodega, and the tasting room built into the banks of the river is unique.
Red wine is the principal interest of Bujanda and in these wines the grape varieties employed are 90% tempranillo, 5% cabernet sauvignon, 3% graciano with just 2% of mazuelo. Skill and expertise accumulated over generations is required to find the right balance for the blend which brings out an unique contribution from each grape variety.
1999 heralded the opening of the splendid new winery and the resulting vintages have continued to receive rave reviews for their complexity and quality thus maintaining the reputation long enjoyed by the Martinez Bujanda family.
Finca Valpiedra offers a 1999 RESERVA whose tasting notes reveal:
Deep cherry with copper - saffron edge. Intense aroma with a classic Riojan Reserva expression (leather/balsamic) with hints of wild flowers. Flavourful palate with well integrated oak/fruit, expressive, well balanced and with a lengthy aftertaste.