Bodegas Gómez Cruzado has modernity at the core of its origins. This modernity started with the opening of the railway and it continues up until today with precision winemaking to allow the most faithful expression of its unique Rioja terroir and grape varieties to shine through in all of its wines. It’s an adventure from past to present and into the future that defines these profoundly terroir-driven wines from one of Rioja’s earliest and influential producers.
In the mid-nineteenth century, the opening of the Tudela-Bilbao railway line that included a station in Haro revolutionized the wine trade in Rioja. Wine lovers would no longer have to wait for horse-drawn wagons to make their way over bumpy, dirt roads to the port of Bilbao and then by ship to have their glasses filled with Rioja wines. The railway brought modernity and encouraged Spanish and French producers to set up wineries around Haro station so that their wines could get to those oenophiles much faster. One of the very first to take advantage of this modernity was the Bodegas Gómez Cruzado.
This estate goes back to 1886 when Ángel Gómez de Arteche, an aristocrat related to the Duke of Moctezuma de Tultengo, embarked on the adventure of making and bottling his own wine in Haro. In 1916, however, Riojan natives Ángel and Jesús Gómez Cruzado purchased the estate and renamed it with their own moniker. The winery is now under the control of Baños family who have maintained its original family-business style with the youthful and passionate David González and Juan Antonio Leza leading the estate as its viticultural and winemaking technicians.
Gómez Cruzado strives wholeheartedly to express the personality of its grapes and the unique features of each of its vineyards, which is at the core of the estate’s philosophy – to give the most faithful expression of the terroir through all of its wines. All of this happens in three exclusive microclimates and soils that truly show the diversity and all of the nuances that the Rioja DOCa offers. Within Rioja, Gómez Cruzado begins its adventure in two sub-regions Rioja Alta and Alavesa where its vineyards stunningly dot this mythical landscape with Tempranillo, Garnacha, Graciano, Mazuelo and Viura bush vines (also known as “goblet vines”). It’s quite common to see bush vines in arid regions like Rioja, which shade the berries from harsh sunlight. You get lower yields from these types of vines, so there’ll be much more concentrated flavours in the wines – just like what you can expect from Gómez Cruzado wines with its annual production of less than 200,000 bottles! Within these sub-regions, here’s where you’ll find the estate’s Alto Najerilla, Bajo Najerilla and Sierra Cantabria terroirs. Among the most mythical of these terroirs is the Sierra de Cantabria that blankets itself across the Rioja Alavesa and the Rioja Alta. The bush vines soak up all the sun on the highest part of the mountain range at up to 750 metres above sea level in poor, whitish, calcareous-clay soil. These vineyards sit in the path of Atlantic climate influences, so the cooling effect of the Atlantic Ocean distinguishes the wines with freshness and elegance.
Once the grapes are perfectly ripe, the harvest team handpicks the berry bunches and then carries them off to the winery – a facility that was completely revamped in 2005 to take it into the twenty-first century of precision winemaking. The berries are hand-sorted, crushed and then placed into cone-shaped stainless steel vats where they’ll go through a pre-fermentative maceration. This is when the red grapes soak with their juice and skins so that more colour and tannins can be extracted to help give the red wines a deeper colour and more structure. Alcoholic fermentation then takes places in the steel vats, but then for malolactic fermentation (MLF), this is where Gómez Cruzado gets creative so that the grape variety and terroir can shine through in its final wine. Depending on the red wine, MLF, which reduces the wine’s acidity to give it a softer, creamier mouthfeel, can continue in the steel vats, or it can take place in oak barrels, or it can occur in egg-shaped concrete tanks. Ageing also varies depending on the red wine style. The Crianza gets 12 months of ageing in mostly American oak barrels. The Reserva has 18 months in French and American barrels, and then rests for two years in bottle. The Gran Reserva sees the longest time in French and American oak barrels for 24 months, and then three years of bottle ageing. This precise attention to winemaking is why Gómez Cruzado can deliver the personality of its terroir and grape variety into every single glass of wine that flows from its vineyards.
The railroads first took the wines from Gómez Cruzado to reach the glasses of those desiring profoundly terroir-driven cuvées, but these wines can now can reach all the corners of the globe to satisfy that desire with much greater ease. Among these wines that take the adventure from the vineyard and into your glass is the Gómez Cruzado Reserva. From Tempranillo bush vines, you can expect this cuvée to have a bright, ruby red colour with black fruit and spicy aromas like liquorice. The concentrated and round mouthfeel makes it an easy to drink wine. The Gómez Cruzado Honorable is another extraordinary red with Tempranillo taking up most of the blend, but with Garnacha, Graciano, Mazuelo and Viura make an appearance in it as well. The wine has a bright cherry red colour once it splashes into your glass with complex aromas coming from its terroir. You can anticipate elegant fruit and spicy notes with plenty of freshness, as well as well-integrated tannins from the 18 months of ageing in French oak. However, this limited cuvée is only made in the years when the grapes are of the highest quality. From the terroir selection range, the Gómez Cruzado Cerro Las Cuevas is a Tempranillo (95%) and Graciano (5%) blend. The brilliant red cherry colour entices your eyes just as much as the intensely fruity nose with black fruit and liquorice aromas. You can expect your palate to enjoy a full-bodied, ample wine with well-balanced acidity. It’s potent and complex, but offers finesse at the same time.
The Bodegas Gómez Cruzado promises a tasting adventure of all of its unique Rioja terroirs in every single one of its wines – deeply terroir-driven wines offering elegance and finesse to all those wine lovers near and far.