by Fred McMillin
Winery of the Week
The Domecq Trek
The Rest of the Story
Patrick switched from potatoes to grapes and brought in a French-born partner whose heir married a man of rare background...French genes, English educated, considerable wealth...named Don Pedro Domecq Lembeye. A visitor to the Domecq "palace" in 1831 found "the vines were treated with greater care" than any he had seen in Spain...carefully trellised, regularly pruned, "not a weed or blade of grass to be seen among them." From this rose the great sherry wines of Domecq.
Now, on to 1973. The firm recognizes that there's a vast table wine market out there. However, as the Wine Spectator put it, the red wines even from Spain's Rioja district, were pale, thin, tired, over-oaked. So they moved into the Rioja district with a 1,253-acre bang. Before too long, the 20,000 oak barrels were producing four million bottles a year. Critic Carlos Delgado describes their line of Marques de Arienzo Riojas as "extremely delicate and well-crafted." If you gave up on Rioja some time in the past because they were "tired and thin," you must try one again...you can get the Crianza (aged in oak) 1994 for only $10 to see what you've been missing.
Just the Facts
U.S.A. Importer—Allied Domecq
The biggest consumer of Spanish wine when Patrick Murphy arrived at Jerez in the 18th Century? Clue: In Seville alone there were 24 alters serving 400 masses a day, with an estimated consumption of way over one million bottles a year...yes, the monks and friars were the largest purchasers. (See Hugh Johnson's Vintage.)
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