Vine Path Blog 3/19: The Wines of Hermanos Pecina
Rioja is a misunderstood place that makes misunderstood wines. For observers and insiders, the identity of Rioja has been hotly debated, with some Bodegas choosing more modern approaches and eschewing the traditions of the region and others, like the famed Artadi, leaving the DOC all together and in effect abandoning its name. Rioja is a wine region in a great internal conflict between it’s spiritual center and with the demands of the global wine interests. Yet there still remains some true flag holders, Bodegas that represent a kind of militant approach to preserving the legacy of what Rioja was about in an attempt to assure us that it will remain that way because those are the great and true wines. Enter Bodegas Hermanos Pecina, a newcomer to the battle but a welcome and true spirit nonetheless.
Bodegas Hermanos Pecina was founded in 1992 by the long time vineyard manager of the great La Rioja Alta Pedro Pecina. Pedro remained on the team at La Rioja Alta until 2002 when he finally severed his ties and began devoting all of his time to his family domain. It all started with 20 hectares of land in San Vincente in Rioja Alavesa, the basis of the Bodegas’ wines, as well as some prime holdings in cooler climate zones in Rioja Alta. These plots are the most prestigious in the entire region for Tempranillo and they’re packed with all the major players in the region, including the oldest great estate in all of Rioja, R. Lopez Heredia. Their terroir is spectacular, sure enough, and their style is reflective of their neighbors’ greatest vintages. The Tempranillo of Bodegas Hermanos Pecina is giving and warm with rich, soft textures, the product of a peculiar and antique winemaking approach.
The cellar of Bodegas Hermanos Pecina is a unique place. It’s the kind of cellar that only the old-timers would remember seeings, stacks of barrels, none of them new, each full, stacked four or five high. The wine in the barrels are racked down to the next barrel by gravity, a much gentler way to do things than the violent pump-overs typical in most Rioja cellars.
The Bodega also takes care to age their wines in barrel and bottle as long as they need to be aged to achieve the greatest balance and complexity. In Rioja, the rating system is designed around the length of aging: 2 years for “Crianza”, 3 years for “Reserva”, and 5 years for “Gran Reserva”. Like all the other brilliant traditionalist Bodegas, Pedro ignores these rules, opting to age his wines for several more years that the rules require.
All of the vineyards are farmed sustainably and no chemical fertilizers are used. Every wine gently crushed and fermented with the native yeasts in the winery. Each parcel is vinified separately and then blended together creating the identity of the various cuvees. This is the kind of winemaking that makes for the most charming, traditional, and exciting kings of Rioja.
Pecina Rioja Blanco - This wine is made of 100% Viura, cold soaked before fermentation for 24 hours, aged in stainless steel tanks for 6-12 months. A shellfish wine par excellence!
Pecina Rioja Cosecha Tinto - A blend of mostly Tempranillo with a little bit of Garnacha and Graciano from the youngest vineyards in the domaine aged exclusively in steel, no oak. Fresh, lively, and fun.
Pecina Rioja Rosado - From a single vineyard of younger Garnacha vines planted at 600 meters. A bit more powerful, full, and giving than the rose of Provence but that is the Pecina way!
Pecina Rioja Gran Reserva Finca Iscorta - From a single vineyard planted 60 years ago at 500 meters elevation in Rioja Alta. Aged 4 years in oak then 3 in bottle before release. This is a singular expression of Rioja and truly one of it’s greatest.