Five things to know about Campo Viejo

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It’s one of the best-known names in Rioja, but here are five things that might surprise you about Campo Viejo

Campo Viejo winemakers

1. Invented the iconic ‘Rioja bottle’

José Ortigüela founded Campo Viejo as a premium Rioja brand in 1959, but he soon realised that a new kind of bottle was needed to reflect its bold and elegant style.

In 1961 Campo Viejo launched the classic Rioja bottle that has become a symbol of Spanish wine, gracing tables in over 50 countries around the world.

2. Carbon neutral pioneers

In 2012 Campo Viejo became the first Spanish winery to be certified as carbon neutral, leading the country’s wine industry towards a more sustainable future.

From cutting energy and water consumption to reusing organic by-products and protecting wildlife — Campo Viejo’s team work tirelessly to preserve the Rioja wine landscape for generations to come.

3. Winemakers led by women

Campo Viejo’s award-winning wines are made by a blend of three leading Rioja winemakers who happen to be women: Logroño-born Elena Adell has been the winemaking director since 1998, she is an expert agronomist who is dedicated to protecting quality and the environment. Passionate and innovative Clara Canals joined the winemaking team in 2011 after studying in France, South Africa and New Zealand.

Trained in both pharmacology and oenology, Campo Viejo’s newest winemaker Irene Perez combines scientific expertise with artistic creativity.

Campo Viejo underground winery

4. Underground winery

Campo Viejo has a cutting-edge winery with one unusual distinction – it is built almost entirely underground.

Not far from Rioja’s capital city, Logroño, the vast hidden winery has been constructed 20 metres beneath the earth’s surface, including barrel rooms and maturation cellars.

Aside from extraordinary architecture, the underground location provides natural insulation to keep temperatures constant, removing the need for an energy-guzzling cooling system.

5. A unique small batch experimental winery

Besides the main winery, Campo Viejo designed a specialised research centre where its winemaking team can study old traditions and shape the future of Rioja wines.

The team trials new grape varieties and winemaking techniques to find fresh expressions of the regional styles.

It was here that Campo Viejo created their trailblazing Tempranillo Blanco wine, bringing a lesser-known yet indigenous varietal to an overseas audience.

Campo Viejo vineyard


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Winners at the inaugural World Restaurant awards

The first edition of the World Restaurant awards took place on 18 February 2019 in Paris.

World's Best restaurants awards
Mugaritz, in San Sebastián, won the ‘Forward Drinker’ award

Restaurant of the Year was awarded to Wolfgat in South Africa, which also won the award for ‘off-beat destination.’

Wolfgat is a small, beach side restaurant in the Western Cape, which only offers 20 places per sitting, to keep their production sustainable, according to their website.

The food style is described as ‘seasonal, inspired by the weather, with a naturalist approach and minimum intervention’, and the judges said it ‘feels like a restaurant that’s giving back to the community.’

The winner of the ‘Forward drinking’ award went to Mugaritz in San Sebastián, of which judges said ‘Mugaritz’s wine programme is singularly ambitious. The restaurant’s cellar holds around 1,600 wines and some 90 sakes.’

The awards are divided into Big Plates winners – which aim to ‘champion excellence and integrity while trying to better promote the diversity of the world’s restaurant community’, according to World Restaurant Awards.

‘Small Plates’ winners recognise ‘contemporary cultural nuances’ and acknowledge the role of social media and attempts to subvert current gastronomic fashions. These include awards such as ‘tattoo-free chef of the year’ and ‘tweezer-free kitchen.’

The ‘Red wine serving restaurant’ went to wine bar Noble Rot in London, of which judges said ‘It’s hard not to fall in love with Noble Rot.’

It was praised as being ‘a driving force in making wine bars cool again, it does not fall into the trap – as so many fashionable new wave restaurants and wine bars do – of championing white wine over red.’

Top London wine bars – chosen by Decanter experts

About the awards

The World Restaurant Awards were created by IMG in partnership with Joe Warwick and Andrea Petrini to ‘celebrate restaurants as culture, considered in the same way as film, art and music.’

See all of the winners at World Restaurants awards:

Big Plates winners:

Restaurant of the Year
Winner: Wolfgat, Paternoster | South Africa

Arrival of the Year
Winner: Inua, Tokyo | Japan

Atmosphere of the Year
Winner: Vespertine, Los Angeles | United States

Collaboration of the Year
Winner: Paradiso X Gortnanain, Cork | Ireland

Enduring Classic
Winner: La Mère Brazier, Lyon | France

Ethical Thinking
Winner: Refettorio (Food For Soul), Various locations | Italy

Event of the Year
Winner: Refugee Food Festival, Paris (and worldwide) | France

House Special
Winner: Lido 84 (Cacio e Pepe), Lombardy | Italy

Forward Drinking
Winner: Mugaritz, San Sebastián | Spain

No Reservations Required
Winner: Mocotó, São Paulo | Brazil

Off-Map Destination
Winner: Wolfgat, Paternoster | South Africa

Original Thinking
Winner: Le Clerence, Paris | France

Small Plates winners:

Instagram Account of the Year
Winner: Alain Passard (@alain_passard), Paris | France

Long-Form Journalism
Winner: Lisa Abend, The Food Circus | Fool Magazine

Red-Wine Serving Restaurant
Winner: Noble Rot, London | United Kingdom

Tattoo-Free Chef
Winner: Alain Ducasse, Paris | France

Trolley of the Year
Ballymaloe House, Cork | Ireland

Tweezer-Free Kitchen
Winner: Bo.Lan, Bangkok | Thailand

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Bodegas Corral: at the heart of the Camino de Santiago

Promotional featureThe art of winemaking; sharing experiences of culture and life

Altos de Corral vineyard
Altos de Corral vineyard, La Rioja

Established in the Middle Ages, the Camino de Santiago is a network of routes that Christian pilgrims followed to reach the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in northwestern Spain. Still in use today, the pathways run through some of Spain’s classic winemaking regions – including Rioja.

The town of Navarette, in La Rioja was home to the Hospital de San Juan de Acre, a pilgrim hospital strategically located where two routes on the Camino de Santiago – the Camino del Norte (Northern Way) and Camino Francés (French Way) – meet. It was here that weary pilgrims stayed and shared their knowledge, contributing to the unique local winemaking culture of the area.

Today the ruins of the Hospital de San Juan de Acre can still be seen on the section of the Camino de Santiago that passes through the vineyards of Rioja producer Bodegas Corral. Perhaps this history helps to explain why the winery channels a deep understanding of the art of winemaking, a meeting of the ways and sharing of experiences, culture and life.

Don Sautumino Daroca, a farmer deeply rooted in the land of his native Rioja, funded the bodega in 1898. He planted the first vines in Sojuela, a village close to Navarrete. His daughter later married Don Martín Corral, whose name and coat of arms the winery still bears today.

Over the course of the following century, the bodega grew and developed. A new winery was built in Navarrete in 1974, as production demands increased, but the wines have never lost their artisanal identity.

A successful year

Last year was a very special year for Bodegas Corral because in addition to celebrating its 120th Anniversary in 2018, the winery achieved the highest recognition at two of the most prestigious international wine competitions: the International Wine Challenge (IWC) and the International Wine & Spirit Competition (IWSC).

The Altos de Corral Single Estate Reserva 2010 was awarded the Spanish Red Trophy for the best Spanish red wine at the IWC. While Don Jacobo Gran Reserva 2004 was awarded the Gran Reserva Rioja Trophy for the best gran reserva Rioja at both the IWC and IWSC. Bodegas Corral was also shortlisted for Spanish Producer of the Year award at the IWSC.

Finally 2018 also saw a nomination for Bodegas Corral in the ‘Best Wine Tourism Activity’ category at the Bilbao-Rioja ‘Best of’ Wine Tourism awards, for its event ‘One Stop on the Road’.

Bodegas Corral logo

Booking and information at:

Bodegas Corral – Km 10 on the Logroño road, 26370 – Navarrete, La Rioja (Spain)

Tel. +34 941 440 193


Websites /


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Montalcino winemaker Gianfranco Soldera dies

One of Italy’s greatest – and more controversial – fine wine producers, Gianfranco Soldera, has died at the age of 82.

Gianfranco Soldera dies
Gianfranco Soldera

Soldera, owner of Case Basse winery, died on the morning of 16 February 2019, following a heart attack while driving near to his vineyards in Montalcino, according to Italian media reports.

While he will be remembered as one of Italy’s most outspoken winemakers, his wines also attained high acclaim and bottles of Case Basse Brunello di Montalcino Riserva have become some of the most sought after in the secondary market by collectors all over the world.

From an early stage, Soldera was also a strong believer in organic principles and refused to use chemical fertilisers in the vineyard. He preferred natural yeast in the winery, developing techniques that might find common ground with today’s ‘natural wine’ movement.

Early life

Soldera was born in Treviso in 1937 and arrived in Tuscany in the 1970s in a period that saw a new wave of non-indigenous producers, such as Banfi, Gaja and Molinari, enter the region.

He had formerly worked in Milan as an insurance broker.

Case Basse

He founded Case Basse in Tavernelle, a small village south-west of Montalcino and which lies more than 300 metres above sea level. The first Case Basse vines were planted in 1972 and 1973.

In this part of Montalcino the growing season is longer than in other villages of the denomination due to the extreme diurnal temperature variations.

Soldera farmed 23 hectares of vineyards next to his wife’s botanical garden, which the pair believed helped to create a complex ecosystem in which the vines could thrive.

Soldera was also known for his meticulous work in the vineyard; he consistently removed unnecessary growth from the start of the season through to harvest. This involved trimming shoots, leaves and bunches during the entire growing season.

In the winery, he believed in extremely low intervention, although oak barrels were always carefully monitored by Massimo Vincenzini, a microbiologist from the University of Florence.

Sabotage in the winery

In 2012, around 62,600 litres of Soldera’s Brunello di Montalcino vintages from 2007 to 2012 was intentionally destroyed. A former employee, Andrea Di Gisi, was subsequently jailed for sabotage.

Following the attack, the Consorzio del Brunello di Montalcino offered to supply wine for Soldera to sell, but the winemaker refused, arguing that this would not be fair to consumers. He resigned from the Consorzio and continued to make 100% Sangiovese wine as Tuscany IGP.

Soldera was known for having his own ideas, such as his insistence on resting bottles standing upright rather than lying down. He reputedly only went to restaurants with his own glasses and he was believed to have only drunk his own wines and those of just two or three other producers.

However, he produced some of the most elegant wines from Montalcino that will live beyond his years.

Editing by Chris Mercer. 

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The Decanter interview: Raúl Pérez

Is this the world’s best winemaker? Pedro Ballesteros Torres MW investigates…

Raúl Pérez
Raúl Pérez, pictured in his hometown of Valtuille de Abajo in Bierzo.

With family roots firmly in Spain’s remote northwestern Bierzo region, Raúl Pérez’s minimal-intervention methods and their extraordinary results have rapidly propelled him to the status of global champion.

There are three kinds of winemaking genius. First, the classicists: those who excel in applying what they have learned from their masters and reaching higher levels of refinement. They are behind the great classic wines.

Top wines from Raúl Pérez

Tasted by Pedro Ballesteros Torres MW and Sarah Jane Evans MW


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Top Spanish Mencía wines: panel tasting results

Discovering Spain’s new winemakers

Spain’s top 40 Tempranillo wines

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Comment: Time to look beyond what you know

Why Hugh Johnson is always wondering what’s next in wine…

What's next wine

I’ve celebrated new grapes, new regions and new ideas of all sorts. The question is always, what next?

At this time of year I’m head-down in my next Pocket Wine Book. It’s the 43rd time I’ve done it, and no, it doesn’t get monotonous.

When I say ‘I’, by the way, it’s really a big ‘we’. Every year Margaret Rand commissions and collates revised material from our 30-odd correspondents round the world; Hilary Lumsden edits them; I pore over them, compare them with my own recent experiences, do a lot of fussy subbing, cut out any disposable words without mercy (‘mineral’ is a frequent one) and round it off with my annual ‘Agenda’; a summary of what strikes me as new, different, better or worse. Even ideas for improvements.

This is the tricky bit. There are a thousand changes I could mention: of style, ownership, quality, maturity… But can I detect a theme, or themes? Over 40 years I’ve described many, and got quite shirty about some of them. I’m not averse to sharing the credit when, for example, the world notices that wines are getting too samey, too strong, or too oaky.

I’ve celebrated new grapes, new regions and new ideas of all sorts. The question is always, what next?

My hunch is that we should look east – and not just to the arrival of China on the wine scene. It is scarcely news these days when vines are planted yet higher in the Andes, or Pinot Noir does well as far south as you can go in Australia. Sicily now makes very fine wines. South Africa is on the quality level of California – and often above it.

But what about the countries in Europe that have been at it for centuries and were eclipsed for 50 years by communism?

Austria was the first to emerge definitively as belonging in the first rank. Then Greece took its bow with a giant leap no one could have anticipated. Hungary, with its own elaborate wine culture, masked by names we can’t pronounce, is still only half-understood. What is holding back Romania and Bulgaria? Nothing, I’m sure, that translation and time can’t straighten out. As for Slovenia and Croatia, natural advantages of their geography and climate will soon see their wines compared with Italy’s.

I know not everyone is blessed (or is it cursed?) with my nosiness – wanting to stick my nose, that is, into every wine in reach.

But how boring to stick with what you know; pizza every day, roast on Sundays. I am intrigued when new foods appear on the high street, new wines on the shelves. Aren’t you?

Hugh Johnson OBE is a world-renowned wine writer

See also:

Comment: Sheer curiosity drives me to try every English bubbly

Jefford: Are you a label drinker?

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Sherry country’s quiet revolution

Sarah Jane Evans MW is excited to witness a quiet revolution in Jerez, driven by outside investment, a renewed focus on terroir and the development of different wine styles…

Jerez wines, Bodegas Barbadillo vineyard
Bodegas Barbadillo

In the sunshine of Jerez, within the city’s historic Alcázar fortress, a remarkable sherry tasting took place last summer. Entering the Mezquita inside – the mosque that was turned into a church in 1264 – I had no idea of the significance of what was to unfold. The Mezquita is small, circular and very picturesque, but not the easiest venue for a tasting. Never mind, we were engrossed. At the end, there was a prolonged ovation: not the typical reaction to a wine tasting.

See also:

Rioja 2010 panel tasting results

Top Seville restaurants and wine bars

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Pinot Noir blends – Ask Decanter

Why don’t we see Pinot Noir much as a blend in still wines?

Pinot Noir blends

Lindsay Dawn Schultz, by email, asks: The only red blend I’ve ever come across that contains Pinot Noir is Silk (66% Pinot, 18% Malbec and 16% Petite Sirah) from California’s Ménage à Trois label. Why are Pinot Noir blends so rare, and are there any other red blends you know of that contain Pinot Noir?

Andy Howard MW replies: It is certainly true that red blends are rarely made with Pinot Noir, although it’s clear that Pinot blends well as it is a major component in many top Champagnes. Why is this?

The answer is in part related to Pinot Noir’s unique character – thin skins, pale colour, refinement and elegance, silky tannins, a complex and distinctive nose, notable acidity, ageworthiness and high quality. Winemakers want to make wines that emphasise these qualities, rather than dilute them with other varieties.

Commercially, Pinot Noir is a strong ‘brand’ and most producers prefer to focus on 100% varietal Pinot as this is a better marketing message. Growing conditions provide another reason as the key requirements for successful Pinot viticulture are different to many of the varieties more commonly used in blending – Syrah, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Tempranillo.

You’re right that there are few blends using Pinot Noir – however, a particularly delicious one is Doña Paula’s Blue Edition Velvet Blend – an Argentinian blend of Malbec, Pinot Noir and Bonarda. California also has a history of blending in some Syrah – a wine labelled Pinot Noir can legally be just 75% Pinot Noir (although this generally applies to cheaper wines).

Meanwhile, the French AC of Bourgogne Passe-tout-grains must contain at least one-third Pinot Noir, but here it must be blended with Gamay prior to fermentation.

This question first appeared in the March 2019 issue of Decanter magazine.

More wine questions answered here

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Regional profile: Terra Alta

With its high vineyards and limestone soils, this large Catalonian DO makes distinctive whites from the Garnatxa Blanca grape. Miquel Hudin takes us on a tour of the region and introduces the top producers and wines to look out for…

Terra Alta wines
Vineyards in the DO Terra ALta.

Only a foolish Catalan politician would mention how Catalonia ends at the Ebro river – and only the most foolish among them would say such a thing while standing south of said river. Blustery populism aside, Catalonia does not end at the Ebro; instead it actually rises sharply from it. These distant hinterlands – some 175km inland to the west and a nod to the south from hip, touristic Barcelona – represent a very different side of Catalonia compared to the sunny, selfie-prone beaches that are familiar to most.

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Silverado Vineyards owner and ex-Disney CEO Ron Miller dies

Tributes have been paid to Ron Miller, son-in-law to Walt Disney and co-founder of Silverado Vineyards in Napa Valley, who has died aged 85.

ron miller, silverado
Ron Miller at a Walt Disney Family Museum gala dinner in San Francisco in 2017.

Ron Miller, who was also president of the board of directors at the Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco and had previously been Disney CEO, died in Napa, California, announced the team at Silverado Vineyards.

Miller and his wife, Diane Disney Miller, founded Silverado Vineyards in 1981, together with Disney Miller’s mother, Lillian Disney.

They built up the winery during a transformational period for California and its standing in the wine world.

‘Since its first vintage, Silverado has won a fine reputation for consistent and full-bodied Cabernets from Stags Leap District,’ wrote Decanter contributing editor Stephen Brook last year.

Miller is survived by his seven children, plus 13 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. His wife, Diane, died in 2013.

ron miller, disney

Ron Miller, co-founder of Silverado Vineyards with his wife, Diane Disney Miller. Credit: Silverado Vineyards.

The Walt Disney connection

Miller was a 21-year-old American football player for the University of Southern California when he met 20-year-old Diane Disney on a blind date. They married in Santa Barbara on 9 May, 1954.

After a period in the army and playing football professionally for Los Angeles Rams, he was recruited by his father-in-law to work at Walt Disney studios.

Miller is credited with helping to lead the expansion of the business following Walt Disney’s death in 1966.

As CEO of the Walt Disney Co between between 1978 and 1984, he drove the creation of Disney home video, Touchstone Pictures and the Disney Channel, as well as a move into computer animation.

‘Everyone at The Walt Disney Company is deeply saddened by the passing of Ron Miller,’ said Bob Iger, chairman and CEO of The Walt Disney Co.

‘Few people had Ron’s understanding of our history, or a deeper appreciation and respect for our company, and he shared it generously with anyone who wanted to know more. I was fortunate to have known him, and even luckier to have called him a friend. My thoughts and prayers are with his family.’

In 2009, he helped to establish the Walt Disney Museum in San Francisco.

Silverado Vineyards said that the museum has set up a memorial fund to receive donations in tribute to Miller’s life.

Both Ron Miller and his wife were known for their philanthropy, notably in the areas of classical music and ballet.

Beyond film and wine, Miller also enjoyed skiing, fishing, hunting and golf.

See also: 

Travel guide: Riding Napa Valley’s Silverado Trail

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