Telmo Rodriguez, the enfant terrible of Spanish wine, is a man with a mission…that is no longer impossible.
Twenty years ago, when he and fellow winemaker, Pablo Eguzkiza, appeared on the Spanish Wine Stage with Compania de Vinos de La Granja, in 1994, most vineyards in Spain were being manipulated to grow internationally recognizable grape varietals and the resulting wines tasted as though they could have come from pretty much anywhere in the world, which made them rather lackluster and apathetic.
Enter Telmo Rodriguez, a spirited and energetic young man who decided to buck the trend, work only with native grape varietals tied to the climates and conditions of their sites and breathe life back into abandoned or forgotten vineyards both the lesser and well-known regions around Spain. The result is not only refreshing, but energetic and truly exciting. As such, he is currently known as one of Spain’s pioneer winemakers who not only makes rare, limited wines of real quality and elegance, but his everyday wines are also widely recognized and praised for their excellence and value.
Telmo’s outlook on viticulture is completely in keeping with what we look for here at Eli’s List: biodynamically farmed vineyards where the varietals are indigenous to the region and reflect the character of their respective terroirs.
Telmo was born with wine flowing through his veins. He comes from the famed Rioja family of Remelluri and as a young man he studied oenology and viticulture at the University of Bordeaux, remaining in the region before heading to the Rhone and finally back down into Spain.
Telmo’s first wine was a Garnacha created from old bush vineyards (the traditional Spanish way of farming vines) in Navarra. Recognized as a quality wine, the pair went south into Rueda and from there, the journey continued into Toro, Valdeorras, Malaga, Alicante and Cigales.
At Eli’s List, we carry three of his wines:
“Basa,” from Rueda, one of Telmo’s first wines is a delicate blend of verdejo and viura grapes. Floral and fresh, yet with texture, it is one of Spain’s best quality white wines.
His Alicante “Al Muvedre” is a lovely expression of the mouvedre grape from Bandol, known as Monastrell in Spain. Alicante reds can be weighty, but this is fresh and cool and dry, pairing very well with a wide range of foods.
And lastly, from Valdeorras, we have “Gaba Do Xil.” The wine comes from a vineyard called “La Falcoeira” in the small Galician town of Santa Cruz, where the farmer still uses an implement from the Middle Ages to prune his vines. Made from godello, a varietal native to Galicia, the wine has garnered rave reviews from connoisseurs and critics.