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Podcast #28 – Andrew Holod of Grapes of Spain

Today I have an interview with Andrew Holod of Grapes of Spain. Andrew is the Marketing Manager for this exclusively Spanish portfolio, and also one of the top Spanish wine importers in the US market. Here’s a short intro taken from their Portfolio:

Grapes of Spain, Inc. was established in November 00, with its first container landing in the United States in Spring 00, representing 8 producers. The company imports wines exclusively from Spain and currently represents 6 producers with a portfolio of 90+ wines from all corners of Spain. All of the wines are new to the U.S. market and are from family winegrowers and that focus only on high quality and limited production. The Company’s temperature-controlled warehouse is located in Lorton, Virginia and all the wines are shipped from Spain to the warehouse in refrigerated containers. Our wines are currently represented in twenty-five states and the District of Columbia.

My goal is to look for gems regardless of Denominacion de Origin as there are equally exciting wines from Alicante, Pla de Bages and Almansa as from Rioja, Ribera del Duero or Toro. Its not as if a wine’s origin is unimportant however I’m not selling a D.O., I’m selling an individual wine. Another key to the style of wines in my portfolio is that many of the winemakers are young and talented; representing the new face of Spanish winemaking. They bring a new point of view to wine quality as many have travelled internationally and have had a broad exposure to the world of wine. Furthermore, many of these winemakers are inheriting old vineyards, a further key to quality. I hand select each wine and my wines reflect the true personality, quality and character of each vineyard, grape and people who make it. The wines are modern but not international with a balance between fruit and oak, where oak frames fruit flavors. Concentration of fruit character comes from hard work in and understanding of the vineyard not extraction during fermentation. Finesse, not exclusive of concentration of fruit, is paramount to the style of wines I search to represent. I always search for wines that provide the best value for the money whether at $0 per bottle or $00. Finally I believe the wines in my portfolio represent an authentic expression of Spanish wine.

Aurelio Cabestrero, owner, is originally from Madrid, Spain. He worked at Madrid’s Café de Oriente Restaurant for three years before coming to the US to work as Sommelier for Taberna del Alabardero in Washington DC. He worked at Taberna del Alabardero for three years and also worked as Sommelier at Marcel’s in Washington DC before pursuing his passion to import wines from his country, Spain. Aurelio has also won the Ruinart 99 prize as the Best Sommelier in Spain, Best young Sommelier in 994 by Wine and Gastronomic Magazine and came in second place at the National Sopexa Competition of French Wines and Spirits 994. He is also founding member of Madrid Association of Sommeliers. In December 005, he was named to Robert Parker’s “Wine Personalities of the Year” list. “Aurelio Cabestrero is a serious importer of high quality Spanish wine who will gain ever increasing recognition as his name becomes better known. I first met him when he was a sommelier at Washington, DC’s finest Spanish restaurant, and there is no question he has a brilliant palate as well as a knack for finding tiny, unheralded estates that are producing high quality wine.”


Ryan Opaz

Show Links:

Bodegas Bernabe Navarro – Byrena
Bodegas Ayles – Wines
Wine Searcher

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