Bodegas De La Riva, Jerez
Jerez natives Ramiro and Willy met in the mid-2000s while studying oenology at Universidad Puerto Real then their ways parted for a while. Ramiro worked for many years as the head winemaker at a local Co-op, soaking up information about the land & vineyards, eventually founding his own bodega Cota 45, while Willy joined his father’s bodega, Luiz Perez.
Being part of a small group of young blood producers in Jerez the pair reconnected in 2016 which is when they embarked on their La Riva project (more on that soon) and also the immense task of writing a book, Los Sobrinos de Haurie, which focuses on documenting the development of the intricate wine production methods and history of the area spanning over the 19th century.
Essential to understand here is that these guys are all about returning to their roots and at the same time re-interpreting and paying homage to the rich viticultural history of their birthplace.
Initially having been a dynamic region where focus was the relationship between specific vineyards (pagos), soil, grape and ageing methods with the result of highly individual wines.
Varied economic factors, industrial big scale agriculture, a later failed monopolization,
all played their part in seeing these old vineyard-focused traditions increasingly replaced with the standardized house style, favoring extensive flor-influence and fortification.
Quality steadily decreased together with a decline in the demand and many bodegas went bankrupt. Something clearly went missing and it’s this lost piece of tradition that Ramiro and Willy’s work centers around.
Back to De la Riva and the revival of this ancient bodega.
Dating back to the late 1700’s it had always carried a great reputation for high quality sherries, old soleras and their top-notch vineyards in the Pago Macharnudo – one of the oldest vineyard areas in the zone at a high elevation and with very pure limestone soil – when Manuel Antonio de la Riva bought it in 1838. It stayed in the family until the 70’s when Bodega A. Domecq. took over. Bodega De La Riva and its wines stayed greatly admired by Jerezanos, and this struck a chord with Willy and Ramiro that noted that the wines had a particular sense of place to them. An opportunity emerged in 2017 and Ramiro and Willy purchased the bodega as a part of their project of reviving and maintaining precious tradition.
Under the De la Riva label they now make a white table wine (Vino Blanco),
a range of Sherries and some very rare wines they manage to source from old bodegas.
Paying attention to detail in the vineyards and understanding the variations between theese pagos is key in their work. If these ancient vineyards are allowed to speak for themselves instead of being masked in the porridge that mass production is, Willy and Ramiro are convinced that the world will start paying attention again.
These are truly unique wines, available in very limited quantities.
2019 La Riva Macharnudo Vino de Pasto
This white wine is sourced from the Palomino Fino parcel ’El Notario’, situated in Macharnudo Alto, northern part of Jerez from their own vineyards. Grapes were hand-harvested at the end of August and sun-dried (an old method in the area) for 6 to 8 hours before being pressed. Natural fermentation in a 600L bota at room temperature and aged under flor for 22 months.
This style of white wine was typical in Jerez in the 1940s and
was a signature style of the De la Riva bodega.
Bottled in June 2020. 1370 btls produced. Not fortified.
La Riva Manzanilla Fina
The La Riva Manzanilla is sourced from one single solera at the almacenista Luis del Río.
Palomino Fino Grapes are picked from the Casilla Verde family estae, situated 7 km from the sea in Sanlúcar. Hand-harvest in mid-September and fermented in tank on the lees. Finally aged under flor for an average of 3.5 years in a traditional 1/12 solera system.
This contract is a sort of adoption, allowing Willy and Ramiro to take control of the maintenance and bottling of the wines from an established solera. To refresh the solera they carefully select and source new wines to steadily continue the process.
Bottled in May 2019 4000 btls produced. Alc.15%
La Riva Manzanilla MGN
Sourced from a small family Bodega in Miraflores Alta where for generations two wines were produced by hand: Manzanilla and Pedro Ximénez. The bodegas last harvest was in 2008 and the vineyards were later sold. Left in the cellar were only four 125 liter barrels with only a couple of liters of wine left in each. Ramiro and Willy were blown away when they ha the luck of sampling the remains and decided to bottle what was left.
It was not an easy decision though as the seriously considered keeping it for private consumption as the wine tasted so outstandingly good.
Bottled in May 2021. 40 Magnum btls produced Alc. 15%