The wine in the bottle and the image on the label of Gran Cerdo say a lot about Gonzalo Gonzalo. He is an extremely talented biodynamic winemaker who has turned his back on traditional methods and has succeeded in creating a delicious product, despite several setbacks.
Gonzalo is a child of the vines having grown up on his parents’ vineyard at Fuenmayor in the La Rioja region of Spain. So, it’s no surprise he chose to follow them and become a winemaker.
However, he opted to do things differently and, after studying oenology, a trip around France and Italy introduced him to natural winemaking and convinced him to pursue that route when he set up his own winery.
The decision to move away from the traditional process was reaffirmed when his father died as a result of an illness caused by years of working with chemical fertilisers and herbicides. He farms the grapes without adding sulphur or artificial yeast and fermented in concrete tanks so there is no oak influence. The result is a smooth wine which is heavy on fruit and is great with food or on its own.
The wine he produces uses no filtration or stabilisation and has established a growing following. And the label, featuring a fat pig (Gran Cerdo in Spanish) is another nod to the difficulties he had in making his first vintage.
Needing financial support to complete the harvest, he turned to his bank. His application was declined on the basis that wine was not regarded as suitable security for the loan as it could not be seized if he defaulted on repayments.
Fortunately, friends stepped up to provide the backing and the wine was well-received – and he has gone on to repeat that success in subsequent years.
However, he did not let the snub from his bank go unheeded. In fact, he named the wine after the ‘fat pigs’ who almost killed his business.
In dedicating the wine to the bankers, he said, “One day, these greasy and sweaty corporate suits will find that the best things in life cannot be impounded. Thanks to our friends help, we were finally able to bottle this wine.”