torsdag den 6. august 2015

Modern Cathedrals of Wine

Around the world there are a lot of beautiful buildings hosting wineries and many of them are designed by architects. Some of them are old, but more often they are designed and build in the last couple of decades. In La Rioja in Spain you will for instance find Bodegas Ysios designed by Santiago Calatrava and Frank O. Gehrys City of Wine.
I spent my summer vacation in the north of Spain close to Tarragona. Driving around I came across two very different but both beautiful designed wineries.

The first is called Cathedral of Wine and is situated in Nulles in Tarragona DOP. It was built in 1917, when the local farmers decided to union and build a winery and cellar. The architect behind the modernistic building with references to cathedrals, Cèsar Martinell, was a pupil of Antoní Gaudi who created the famous La Sagrada Família and other buildings in nearby Barcelona. Cèsar Martinell created several cathedrals of wine around in Catalonia. The one in Nulles is hosting Adernats, a company that produces both Cava and still wines made of varieties as Macabeu, Xarel·lo, Moscatell, Parellada and Chardonnay among the whites and Ull de LLebre and Merlot among the reds.

Driving inland to Aragon we passed another very modern winery in Somontano close to Barbastro between Huesca and Lleida – Sommos Bodega, designed by Jesús Marino Pascual. The building is very futuristic, spreading its wings out in the middle of the vineyards like a giant butterfly. Sommos is producing both white, rosé and red wine. For the whites they use varieties like Chardonnay and Gewütztraminer – a speciality in Somontano just south of the Pyrenees. The reds are based on international varieties like Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah and off course Tempranillo.

I only tasted a couple of wines from Sommos – a white and red blend in the entry level under the name Glárima. The white was a blend of Chardonnay and Gewütztraminer. It had the spicy character, but was lacking acidity in my opinion. The red was a blend of Tempranillo, Merlot, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon. Dark and intense with a lot of dark fruit, but with too much flavours from the oak.

Why do the companies invest a lot of money in creating a special designed winery? One of the reasons is to send a message about high quality and exclusiveness. Another is pure marketing. Wineries are often places in open spaces just surrounded by vineyards, which gives the architect a chance to create an eye-opener. I stopped at Sommos and paid them a visit; because I noticed the building from the main road and I might even unconscious recognize it form pages on the internet paying attention to wineries and architecture.
Finally another trend is connected. Wine tourism is growing and modern wineries like Sommos includes a shop, a restaurant, a gallery and even the possibility to ride in the vineyards on the back of a horse. Other new wineries are including small hotels. The competition among wine producers is not just a matter of quality and price. It is a matter of event and entertainment too. It is a matter of combining the possibility to taste wine with cultural experiences in the modern Cathedrals of Wine.

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