I’ve been struggling to get round to posting this today, so I’ll make it brief for now and write a more detailed post on the trip, and the reasons behind it, at a later stage.
However, I’m very excited to say that we now have a video, albeit featuring my less-than-photogenic face a little too much, that gives you a greater flavour of the Dinastia Vivanco Museum of the Culture of Wine, and of the Winery as well.
It was created by Christian Payne (@documentally) and I want to thank him so much for getting the raw footage edited and online so quickly.
The main reason we made this video now is that Thirst for Rioja and Dinastia Vivanco will be sponsoring the London Twestival this week (12 February, 2009) and I wanted to have a video that those who attend will be able to watch to see who was sponsoring the wine, and why.
I hope you enjoy it, and please do leave me and Christian, your thoughts and comments.
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I’m off to Rioja for a flying visit today. If all goes well, on my return we will have material that will allow anyone who has yet to visit Dinastia Vivanco, to experience the scope of this project better than ever before.
I’ve been blogging for some time, and the written word has been great to get across some ideas and stories of Rioja and about wine. However, a picture really IS worth a thousand words, especially when blogging, so I learned to use my camera better so I could share the views of Rioja and Dinastia Vivanco too.
But even photos have failed to capture the full impact of the Dinastia Vivanco Museum and Winery in Briones. So, this time, I want a thousand pictures … VIDEO.
In a few days, Dinastia Vivanco will be sponsoring the wine at the London Twestival, so I wondered how I might find a way to share the Dinastia Vivanco story with this audience. Traditionally I might have printed hundreds of leaflets for “goodie bags” or plastered logos around the event. The first is a very expensive waste of paper, and the second distracts from the actual event and the cause we are supporting, so they are ineffective.
So I realised that what I needed was to offer attendees a means of visiting Rioja “virtually” (no Second Life / avatar nonsense) by creating a video of someone’s first hand experience, someone this audience could trust and relate to. Enter Christian Payne, otherwise known as Documentally.
Christian is helping me discover the world of online video (live streaming as well as edited content) and coming along to demonstrate its power by recording a 24 hour visit to Rioja. We will then make this video available to London Twestival goers to watch before/after the event and maybe decide that they would like to come along in person.
As Christian says:
“Using social media to highlight a sponsors product in this way, enables the focus at the actual event (in this case Twestival) to be about the charity or cause that everybody is rallying around. By creating content around Dinastia Vivanco’s wine, Twestival goers can know it is Dinastia Vivanco who is supplying the London event with quality wine without the need for on-the-night plugging and publicity. The night should remain primarily about raising money for Charity:Water http://www.charitywater.org/ “
I’ll be posting the results on the blog in the next few days I hope and will link to Documentally’s content from the trip here, and on twitter (follow me @thirstforrioja) too.
And, in the spirit of the event we are supporting, I would like to point out that we are offsetting the carbon emissions from this trip through the airline’s carbon off-setting scheme, and Christian will also be planting trees on a family farm in Wales.
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- Blogging, Twitting & the Art of Conversation (sandrineplasseraud.typepad.com)
- Twestival Unstoppable: Live Earth Joins Twitter Fundraiser (mashable.com)
- Twestival – the big twitter meetup (doncrowley.blogspot.com)
- Top scores for Coleccion Vivanco Rioja wines (thirstforrioja.co.uk)
I’ve managed to get hold of a map of all the wine regions of Spain and Portugal – on the same map! How innovative is that?
Why is it that 99% of wine maps ignore the surrounding areas? It removes so much context, particularly when wine regions can be separated by some pretty arbitrary political borders.
Anyway, I’ve now got mine and I will be taking pride of place on my wall at some stage – it is quite beautiful as well as practical. Check it out!
If you fancy your own, you have 3 choices:
- If you are in the US/Canada, visit De Long Wine to read more about the guy who published this and how to get hold of it over there.
- If you are in Europe, you’d be better to buy it from Catavino‘s site as the shipping is much cheaper
- BUT, if you are a UK wine retailer, you could try contacting me QUICKLY! I’m about to offer 10 of these to new customers that list wines from the Dinastia Vivanco range. If you get in early, you are more likely to get hold of one. Not only will the map be free, but you get to make money from selling the Rioja wines – not a bad deal.
Oh, and in case you have “that song” going through your mind, you can find it here, don’t cha know
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This week, Rafael Vivanco of Dinastia Vivanco was in town to attend the Bibendum Annual Tasting, so I thought it would be a great opportunity for him to meet a few people outside our usual “trade” circles.
Trade lunches and dinners are extremely interesting as I get to talk to some of the most influential sommeliers in the UK, and they have the pulse of the market, particularly at the top end of the business.
Of course we love showing our wines to buyers and sommeliers who can then go on and spread the word to their customers. However, the buzz in the air at the moment is “Social Media” and using new platforms of communication to reach new audiences. So, as well as our excellent lunch at Galvin at Windows (now getting heavily involved in Social Media themselves – follow them on twitter), and meeting the incredibly nice Angus McNab of Clos Maggiore too, I thought I’d put Rafael in the same room with a great bunch of London food bloggers … and see what happened.
What happened will be better recorded by them, so I’ll include links below to the excellent round-ups as they post them. It also meant that there were more cameras and bottles of wine consumed that there were diners.
I’ll leave the experts to comment on the food and restaurant (we dined at the always excellent and innovative St John in Clerkenwell, and booked just before they announced the Michelin star). To save them looking up the details though, here are the wines we tried on the night:
Vivanco Blanco 2007: this wine’s freshness surprised many of the bloggers, especially as many had not tried white Rioja before. It paired well with the starter dishes, many of which, being cuts of pork, had high fatty contents and the crisp acidity helped to liven things up.
Dinastia Vivanco Rioja Crianza 2005: the 2005 Crianza has just been released and has a wonderful violet perfume that lifts this wine. It matched well with the warmer meaty starters (like bone marrow salad!) and the more modern, fruity style of this wine appealed to lots of us.
Dinastia Vivanco Rioja Reserva 2001: the Reserva was saved for the main courses. This is now a mellow, mature Reserva with the toasty, balsamic aromas and tastes from its longer ageing. I think this group probably preferred the younger wines in truth.
Coleccion Vivanco Rioja 4 Varietales 2005: talking of younger wines, this is still an infant and benefited from decanting for a while and larger glasses for enjoying it fully. This is a style of Rioja wine most of the bloggers had not tried before; a powerful, modern wine, unfined, unfiltered and amazingly concentrated and I can say it went incredibly very well with my (shared) Steak & Kidney Pie.
Follow this link for pictures and more technical details on all the Dinastia Vivanco wines.
So in short, what happened was that Rafael Vivanco has a much better understanding about the exciting possibilities of Social Media interactions between wine and foodie types, and we are working on some pretty exciting projects along these lines already. Also, I hope, food bloggers now see wine as a new topic of interest and not something that anyone should be frightened of – and in particular, have a greater love of good Rioja.
Thank you very much to everyone who came, and you can share some more of the experiece by checking out the great reviews and photos below: [I'll update the blog links to their reviews of the evening as they post them]:
I hadn’t planned another post quite so soon (after all, I wouldn’t want to spoil you and have you expect me to post THAT regularly) but I awoke to some wonderful news which I thought I would share.
Julia Harding MW, who is the main contributor to JancisRobinson.com other than Jancis herself, just wrote an interesting article and tasting notes on “Variety in Rioja“, including a review of a range of single varietal wines of Graciano, Garnacha, Mazuelo, Maturana Tinta (I think I’ve had the white but not the red) and of course, Tempranillo.
I’m not sure of the rules about republishing the details of the article as it is a subscriber-only Purple Pages article, but of the 31 wines reviewed, the highest rated 3 wines scored 18 points and 6 scored 17.5 points. The Coleccion Vivanco Graciano 2005 was one that scored 18 points and the Coleccion Vivanco Garnacha 2005 scored 17.5- a great recognition for these wonderful wines which, unfortunately are available in very small quantities and therefore sell out very quickly.
If you are a subscriber to JancisRobinson.com I recommend checking out the article for a list of some great Rioja wines (there are quite a few here I have not tried and will seek out). Oh, and if you have come here as this site was recommended as a stockist, I’m afraid I do not sell the wines, but please do contact the other stockists mentioned – Bibendum Wine Ltd and D. Byrne Fine Wines
A great bit of news and recognition to take us into 2009 and hopefully the start of even more interest in these wines (look out for an event in the near future where I will introduce the latest vintage of these wines).
Happy New Year!
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As a wine blogger and social media activist, I feel it is important to spread the word about wine, wine culture and the great stuff that wineries are doing online. Of course, one of these wineries happens to be Dinastia Vivanco.
So as well as helping out my friends, I also had a couple of wines to show, and I’m very glad to say that both the Vivanco Viura Malvasia (white) and Crianza 2004 (red) were extremely popular with the London Bloggers.
I really enjoy tasting these wines with people. Firstly the white is not what they expect – much more tropical fruit and richness and also no oak age. It is a revelation for most wine consumers, even if they are reasonably knowledgeable and gives me great pleasure to introduce it, particularly if they too are the type of person looking for something really new in wine. The Crianza is “just what the doctor ordered” (note: I am not making any health claims for these wines, that’s not allowed!) and a spectacular example of Rioja with a modern twist – a greater depth of rich fruit and 100% tempranillo.
Ember was a great venue for this sort of gathering. They were very welcoming and organised, plus we had some nice staff on hand and the room to ourselves most of the night. By some cosmic coincidence, and the fact that I have met the Chief Executive, they sell the two Dinastia Vivanco wines we tasted, so it was a place well prepared for tasting good wines.
I’m very grateful for the chance to taste these wines with a great bunch of people with many different backgrounds, and many different views on wine. I look forward to hearing what they made of these wines on the night and to introduce them to the bigger Dinastia Vivanco project as well. I will post up a round up of views and reviews as I come across them, but please feel free to drop me a note so I can talk to you about your views.
For those who are interested in more information and some stockists on these wines, check out the information on Dinastia Vivanco on this site.
I did not have to stray far for my first visit to a winery during my stay in Logroño. Bodegas Ontañon is conveniently (if you have a car, and EVERYONE has a car here) on the eastern outskirts of the town – helpfully near the Berceo shopping centre we had come to know and love (for family reasons that I shall bore you about some other time).
This visit was to be with the whole family – my wife, my mother in law and two kids, so I had wanted to find one that was amenable to such a varied group, and this sounded ideal.
Bodegas Ontañon (the building) is actually a converted caramel sweet factory which was bought in the 1980′s by the Perez family for the purpose of establishing their winery. This building is now used only for the ageing of wine in barrels (there are a LOT of barrels in Rioja, so there is always a need for spaces to store them), and therefore is not affected by the need to provide access to tractors, for large fermenting vats and all the paraphernalia of winemaking – these take place in another of their winery buildings elsewhere. Instead, they decided to surround the barrels with art, sculptures and stained glass, and almost all of it by a single, local artist and friend, Miguel-Angel Sainz.
The highlights of the tour are really the pieces of art. Without this punctuation, the series of large rooms full of barrels are a little featureless and a little lacking in that “lived-in” look that differentiates a home and a showroom, but this is an art gallery after all. In every room there is a larger than life sculpture or colourful stained glass window, and even the light shades were designed by the artist. Somehow our tour guide managed to combine details of the history of the family and winery, information on winemaking, and a discussion of art and the artist in the one tour. Note, they do apparently do tours in English and French if there is the demand, but our tour was in Spanish, so I am not certain how well this is achieved in English.
The pieces themselves, largely sculptures, were interesting and on a very grand scale (check out the statue of “Mujer en el Mundo del Vino” or Woman in the World of Wine), and it was good to see wine culture extending itself beyond just describing grape-growing and wine making practices. Most of the art has a wine theme, so it does tie together rather better than I may be describing it, although you might want to brush up on your mythology before you pop along.
They also have an interesting marketing idea. They take everyone’s photo during the tour and upload it to their site, so you can go back, select the date and time of your visit and check out your group photo. It’s a nice way to make the memory personal, and get people coming back to check the site of course! They also appear to have started a blog, which would make them one of the few wineries in Rioja to have done so.
However, I do think that most wine tourists are likely to want to see more “hands-on” areas associated with the wine; where the grapes come in, where they are selected, crushed, fermented and pressed. These speak of the human effort behind the process in a way that gently ageing barrels do not, and therefore I felt it lacked a little of its wine “soul”.
The end of the tour, rather unsurprisingly, consisted of a tasting. We tasted the Ontañon Rioja Reserva 2001, and a sweet white wine called Marco Fabio (Dulce) 2004. As this was a visit with family, I wasn’t taking detailed notes, so these are just some impressions:
I’m afraid the 2001 Reserva wasn’t showing all that well, lacking fruit and tasting somewhat astringent, but I suspect it might just have been a bad bottle.
The sweet wine, on the other hand, a Vino de la Tierra made with Moscatel and not a Rioja wine, was rather good. I’m not often a fan of such Spanish wines, but this wine was very nicely made, balancing the sweetness of the late harvest Moscatel de Menudo with a fresh acidity. This is one I’d like to taste again and I suggest you look out for (but I suspect is made in tiny quantities).
Overall, I’d say a visit to Bodegas Ontañon should be on your list of places to visit if you re staying in Logroño and you like art, as it really is a little bit different to any other winery. It is not far to the centre of town so you can easily fit it in your itinerary.
I will admit I was a sceptic, but it seems that I have been proven wrong.
Recently, the Rioja marketing body started a (viral) campaign to find the “sound of Rioja” by getting (predominantly young) people to send in video clips of them making sounds with their Rioja by running their finger on the edge of a crystal glass – full of Rioja of course! The results would be combined into a video for promoting Rioja, a laudable aim.
“Yeah, right!” thought I. “You’ll not get a lot of participation, and what you’ll get will be low quality.“
Now I see that this video has been launched (worth a watch/listen) that says “Producida a partir de imagenes de los usuarios de http://www.riojapasion.com”; (Made from images provided by users of http://www.riojapasion.com):
Pretty cool and a bit fun.
However, my scepticism has not completely gone away. If you visit their site at Rioja Pasion, you will get to see this video and all its wonderful production values, then you click through to the main site and see the list of some of the 57,000 video they (apparently) received. Visitors get to vote on their favourites, and you can see the top 10 on this page. Somehow these 10 don’t quite match the main video!?
This is a big fallacy in the “user generated content” type viral campaign. Even if people like the idea and get behind the campaign (as they have done here), the results are rarely as wonderful as the planners’ mental pictures at the start.
Am I being too harsh?
However, enjoy the Sound of Rioja, or failing that, make our own by popping a cork and drinking it.
One of the wonderful things about working wth the family who established Dinastia Vivanco is that there is no such thing as a ‘normal’ day. One day I’m off tasting wines with folks (like I did recently for the nice people of the Stroud Wine Society, and a wonderful lunch at Carden Park with Cheshire Life Magazine), the next, I come home to an announcement that reads:
The Dinastia Vivanco Online Documentation Centre Wins International ‘Best Of’ Wine Tourism Award for Art & Culture
What’s that I hear you ask! Well, not content with making wine, they are investing in all sorts of wonderful projects to encourage us to appreciate wine in all its aspects – after all, wine has been important in history, religion, film, literature and art too, and not just something to drink.
So they’ve been collecting all sorts of documents, including some absolutely AMAZING books that pre-date the year 1501 called “incunables“, and making these available online. In fact, they are even digitising these books (as Google has been doing elsewhere) so everyone might be able to access them.
So now I get to write about something totally different, and if this interests you, check out the wine documentation centre here.
So, if you are doing research or publishing anything and are looking for some resources, documents, books, pictures, audiovisual material and more, you might want to check out the Dinastia Vivanco Online Documentation Centre.