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Alejandro López, winemaker at Torre de Oña, “Finca Martelo is an expression of our environment and our landscape”

For those who do not know him, Alejandro López was chosen as one of the “Top 10 Best Revelation Winemakers” in 2018 according to Decanter magazine, fruit of the great work he carried out in wineries in Spain, Chile, Italy and the United States. In March 2019 he joined the La Rioja Alta, S.A. group where he became a member of Julio Sáenz’s technical team. Since then, he has taken over the oenological reins of the Torre de Oña and Áster wineries. A major new challenge that he faces with “great enthusiasm and motivation” and with the aim of “showing the best of each terroir”.

With the recent launch of Finca Martelo 2015, we took this opportunity to sit down with Alejandro for a chat, discussing everything from the importance of the terroir to the secret of how to keep improving vintage after vintage.

Finca Martelo represents a new style of Rioja Alavesa. In what way do think?

It is a wine with its own personality. It embodies the viticulture in Torre de Oña very well and is the expression of a particular terroir.

Alejandro López enólogo de Torre de Oña

The Torre de Oña Winery, where Finca Martelo is made, is located in Rioja Alavesa’s “Golden Mile”, a renowned area which houses many internationally recognized vineyards. What singularities does this place have to produce such high-quality wines?

It is a special area due to the orography of the terrain. It is made up of sloping land with different sun exposures, a rich typicity of a chalky soil, and the Cantabrian Mountains as its natural backdrop that protects it from the humidity and cold of the north. Our ancestors were able to appreciate this unique idiosyncrasy of a very specific place in Rioja Alavesa, hence the traditional prestige of this area.  

Only three vintages of Finca Martelo have been produced since 2012. What is the process of deciding whether or not there is a Finca Martelo vintage?  

The process begins in the vineyard, by delimiting the best quality plot each year (Torre de Oña’s 45ha of vineyards are divided into individual plots). The harvest is always carried out by hand in small crates. At the winery, the fruit is selected by an optical sorting machine, which uses lasers to individually analyse hundreds of berries per second. We also have the best fermentation tanks. And then comes the ageing in barrels. Absolutely everything is focused on the vintage offering a Finca Martelo, but the profile we are looking for is difficult to achieve year after year. We are very demanding and this only allows us to enjoy it in outstanding vintages.

Finca Martelo 2015 is already available in the United Kingdom and soon to be too in Spain and the rest of the world. It launched with a Parker 94+. What is the secret to improving vintage after vintage?

Focusing all the work from the vineyard itself, it is an estate wine by nature. And then in the winery, by respecting the vineyard´s expression, always aiming for the next vintage to be better than the previous one.

Alejandro López enólogo de Torre de Oña

In 2018 you were chosen one of the “Top 10 Best Revelation Winemakers” in Spain by Decanter magazine. In the publication’s own words, you are part of “the new generation that is setting the trends for the future”. What would you like to bring to the Torre de Oña Winery? 

Torre de Oña is a boutique winery, surrounded by cypress trees with a grand château. The different wines produced here express our environment, our landscape. My goal is to continue with the lines of work that have been developed over the past decades with a common objective: to make wines that people enjoy. 

Speaking of the #Martelosophy, or #Martelismo was you refer to it in Spanish, what is your favourite way to enjoy a bottle of Finca Martelo? 

Any way that involves sharing it. 

If you were talking to a group of sommeliers, wine tasters and other wine experts, what three reasons would you give them as to why they should uncork a bottle of Finca Martelo?

Expression, softness and memories. 

Will there be Finca Martelo 2020?

We are still working on it, so you will have to wait to find out!

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