We have known the following Spanish wine suppliers for many years and they have recently returned with a great selection of new samples for us to try. Here is their story.
A&A Spanish Wines
Adrian Thirtle & Apy Richelet started a business importing Spanish wines to Australia in 2007, they called their company A&A Spanish Wines. Their wish was to share some of the pleasures of high quality traditionally produced wines from some of the most prestigious wine growing areas of Spain. Many of the grape varieties are unknown in Australia and some of these regional climatic and topographical areas have been producing wines for many hundreds of years.
As they are traditionally manufactured, by law they cannot contain any additives or preservatives. The vineyards are picked by hand several times to ensure that only the ripe grapes make it to the press. In this way, any rotten or corrupted bunches are excluded from the process, a thing that cannot be achieved by mechanical harvesting. The other difference to modern wine manufacture is that rather than a high speed stainless steel rotary press which extracts juice from the skins, seeds and stalks, which produces lots tannin and very fine particles in the wine that need to be filtered out, the traditional vertical pressing exerts less pressure per square centimetre and only extracts the juice from the grape alone. Using this traditional method, only about 75 litres of juice are extracted from 1 tonne of grapes.
The wines that Apy and Adrian import are all from family owned wineries, called Bodegas in Spanish. Some of these families have been growing and producing wines from the same vineyards for well over 100 years and in some cases are fourth and fifth generation. These producers only source their grapes from known vineyards so they can guarantee the quality and consistency of their product, therefore you will not find these bottles of wine on a bottle shop or supermarket shelf as their excess production for sale outside of their normal client base, which is local or domestic consumption, is limited.
There are approximately 60 “Denomination of Origin” regions for wines in Spain. The most well known being Rioja probably followed by Penedes or Ribera del Duero. The D.O. appellation establishes the county’s highest quality produce and is regulated by the Consejo Regulador which ensures that they attain specific quality levels. Products labelled Denominación de Origen, apart from being of superior quality, are expected to carry specific characteristics of geographical region or individual producer and be derived from raw materials originating within the region. Prior to export each of the batches must be analysed by the Government Food & Health Regulator to ensure that the wines do not contain any additives and that the stringent quality control requirements of the D.O. are met.
Apy and Adrian source their wines using the formula of:
1. The Bodega must be a registered D.O. producer.
2. Family owned and run business established for around 50 years least.
3. The age of the vines are well established. Many are over 100 years old.
4. Choose the selection or variety that will suit Australian tastes.
5. Attempt to include grape varieties unknown in Australia.
6. Choose a wine from a D.O. region for its special properties of climate or soil type.
There are many other factors in selecting a wine or a winery, but it is all calculated to ensure that the person that opens the bottle has a totally new experience in the taste and bouquet of a fine hand crafted wine. The drinker can have the timeless experience of tasting a traditional handmade product that contains only pure natural ingredients, free of additives, pesticides, egg products or nuts. The best part of this is that these wines are cost competitive compared to Australian domestic wines and in consideration of the high quality and exhaustive processes to produce are extremely well below any comparable products manufactured in Australia.
Currently Apy and Adrian have wines from Denomination of Origin areas, La Mancha, Jumilla, Cariñena and D.O. Madrid. Their goal is to continually introduce new wines from the various regions so their clients have a unique experience which normally they would not be able to achieve short of travelling to some of the more remote regions of Spain. They also re-stock their more popular varieties and coupages for their clients.