Now I have to say that I didn’t use to get along that well with my teachers, if I would show up at school altogether I was usually seated at the back of the classroom and I’d probably leave again before the first break. If I would happen to be there and the teacher would be reading off the list of students and it was the turn of number 7 Jeroen Hamersma I’d scream PRESENT on the top of my voice. The teacher would look up surprised and introduce me to the rest of the group as the “new kid” in the class due to my excessive absence.

How different would that have been had I had this man as my teacher in my early years. Of course first he would’ve had to bribe me with a glass of his nectar of the gods, but I would’ve clinged to his lips for the rest of the school year and I had carried his bag throughout the whole school just to take part in his next lesson.

We are not discussing just any teacher, but we’re talking about Juan Carlos Sancha who teaches oenology at the University of Winemaking of the Rioja and is also the proud owner of a small vineyard there. On his 5 hectares he farms organically and puts his words from the front of the classroom into action and bottles them.

When at the end of the Seventies tourism really saw a surge in Spain and everybody at home also started drinking Rioja, in the region they started to plant an allrounder, the tempranillo grape. Now 75% of Rioja’s grapes are tempranillo, usually prefered as other grapevarieties are more sensitive to diseases and produce less yiel. Due to the high demand the winemakers decision was an easy one as the grapes are red, you can make good wine with them and they produce more quanitity: a blue stripe over the label and a little net around the bottle and these Rioja’s were sold like hot buns over the counter!

Bodegas Juan Carlos Sancha
D.O. Rioja
Maturana Tinta

Unfortunately this was at the expense of the grapes that before the tempranillo craze were the stars of the Rioja. One of these grape varieties that this Don Quijote is standing up for is the Maturana, a grape variety that only appears in this area and thrives in the colder parts. The clusters of grapes are tiny and once they’re ripe they don’t have such a sweet flavour, but more a hint of acidity. Once these little grapes have been harvested and pressed with a lot of care, the wine is put for 11 months in French oak barrels.

Once Master Sancha is ready to bottle and sticks a label on it we can read “AD LIBITUM”, meaning “at ones pleasure”, which this wine lives up to. With it’s intense colour and only 13 degrees of alcohol, a beautiful acididty and soft tannines, this wine becomes the perfect summer wine when you cool it down a little.

With it’s hints of red fruit and a little bayleaf, it’s a perfect match to the rabbit and the herbs of the previous page. It is and will be one of my favourite Rioja’s and to lay it on thick with the master, sir, you get a 10 out of 10.

Vino & Co

Carretera de Sant Antoni - Eivissa, km 1.6,

07818 Sant Jordi de ses Salines

+34 971 305 324

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