As many of you know, Portalis owners, Jens Strecker and Julie Howe, expanded their business in 2011 to including importing. As the liquor laws in Washington State transformed, so did the ability for smaller producers- cooperatives and families- to have a chance at fair representation in Washington. As Jens watched some of his favorite producers move to the side lines or away from the market all together, it created an impetus to support them.
What is a cooperative? In this world of mass production, a cooperative can seem like bulk production plunk like basket Chianti from the 70’s or box wine… but in truth, it is a foundation for small producers to bring their product to the market. It is not a new concept at all. Many Old World communities bring their product to market and have it crafted into the local wine or their own label. It provides an infrastructure that many do not have the means to create. Cooperatives were an imperative choice for the Spanish when they transitioned out of the Civil War in 1939 and the financial consequences thereof which lasted decades. If cooperatives were not instituted, most of these small producers would have given up their vines- which today we relish!
The ability to have facilities and teams of professionals to assist in crafting these wines is a golden opportunity to communities which would not even grace the marks of the the world wide trade markets. “The cooperative wineries that appeared in the first three decades of the 20th century represented a vast improvement over the cellars they replaced. Collective investment (plus government subsidies and easy farm credit terms) allowed the purchase of newer and better equipment and facilities overseen by trained professional wine-making staff. Individual winegrowers farming a hectare of two of grapes could never have produced commercial quantities of wine at the standard of the new cooperatives. No doubt about it, in their heyday cooperatives were a step up in wine quality.” (Wine Economist) Many cooperatives have active members of these products- not just growing grapes, but production, marketing and sales. These are the cooperatives that we support.
Our featured winery/cooperative, Bodegas Rauda, is located in the town of Roa, at the heart of the Ribera del Duero. Ribera del Duero is located on to the plateaus of the Iberian Peninsula. Nestled together and surrounded by Cantabrian mountains to the north, Zamora mountains to the south, and Sistma Iberico mountains to the south east, the Meseta plateau is at a higher elevation providing hotter days and cool evenings. The Duoro River begins and travels east through Portugal to the Atlantic Ocean. A high desert area, the summers are HOT and the winters blanketed with snow. It is not surprising that Tempranillo reigns king as a varietal here. And similarly, it is one of the DO’s of Spain over looked for its high quality and focus on aging laws similar to Rioja.
In 1956, a group of growers in the area founded Bodegas Rauda, one of the first associations of wine in Ribera del Duero. The Vinos de Rauda team is made up of young professionals who lend innovative and creative ideas to the art of enology with the purpose of bringing the passionate world of wine closer to the consumer. 98% of their production is Tempranillo. At Bodegas Rauda, harvest is a manual process (by hand). The vines average at 40 years, creating intense flavors and nuances extracted from the highly sandy clay layered soils laced with limestone and marl. The production of these wines combines the latest technology with tradition. Innovative and modern stainless steel tanks stand side by side with traditional cement vats which continue to preserve the best qualities necessary for fermentation. The aging cellar holds over 475 French, American and central European oak barrels of various toasting levels. In both cases, strict temperature control is observed. Overall production volume is nearly two million liters.
Bodegas y Viñedos Rauda Tinto Roble — Reg.$15.99 | INSIDER $13.99 | Mixed Case $12.79 — “Roble” 4 months in oak-
Bodegas y Viñedos Rauda Tinto Roa Crianza — Reg. $22.99 | Mixed Case $18.39 — “Crianza” 12 months in oak, 24 in bottle
Bodegas y Viñedos Rauda Tinto Roa Reserva — Reg. $36.99 | INSIDER $35.99 | Mixed Case $29.59 — “Reserva” 12 months in oak, 36 in bottle
Bodegas y Viñedos Rauda Musai de Tinto Roa — Reg. $43.99 | INSIDER $41.99 | Mixed Case $35.19 — French and American oak, 15 + months
Interested in exploring Ribera del Duero or other cooperatives? Stop in! We would love to teach you more!
Cheers– Jaci, Jens and Julie