Winemaker Interview: Bibi García, Cortijo Los Aguilares
Cortijo Los Aguilares is a relatively young winery that has the utmost respect for the terroir and the combination of tradition with the most advanced technology lie at the heart of their philosophy. Located 5km from the historical and monumental city of Ronda, Cortijo Los Aguilares is an 800-hectare estate, with 30 dedicated to vine-growing. The surroundings are an abundance of scrublands and holm oaks which offer an ideal environment to the different grape varieties they grow: Pinot Noir, Petit Verdot, Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah.
Cortijo Los Aguilares has made a name for itself thanks to its Petit Verdot and particularly to its award-winning Pinot Noir, which won twice the Gold Medal (2010) and the Great Gold Medal (2008) at the “Mondial du Pinot Noir” of Sierre, Switzerland – something very unusual for a Spanish wine of this grape variety – positioning the wine at the highest international level, despite the many difficulties to grow this variety in southern latitudes. We catch up with their head winemaker Bibi García to find out more.
Hi Bibi! Tell us how you came to become the winemaker at Cortijo Los Aguilares.
It was 14 years ago when I joined the company. Before that, I used to work in Priorat, Chile and Rioja Alavesa. Time has flown, and it seems it was just yesterday when I first started working here!
What’s special about the region that your estate is in?
It’s a rising area but with a very long story in vine growing and winemaking, since the time of the Romans. After the filoxera, this activity almost disappeared, but since the 80s some producers brought it back to this region. The climate, the soils and the landscapes are perfect to let the vineyard gives its best.
The region is pretty well-known for sweet, sugary wines. Is that the case for your wines?
Those wines are mostly from Málaga or la Axarquía, that are more than an hour away from Ronda. Here the mountains, cool nights at summer and soft wind, help the vines to develop perfectly and produce healthy and balanced grapes.
Your bodega is probably best known for Pinot Noir. Is that your favourite grape to work with?
Actually, it is the most difficult to work with, because it is quite delicate for such a southern climate. My favourite one is Petit Verdot, the one we use for TADEO or PAGO EL ESPINO, which reflects perfectly the complexity of our terroir.
Tell us more about the character of your Pinot Noir.
Our Pinot Noir is quite unique because its nose shows great ripeness and fruity character, but in the palate it is unexpectedly fresh and very light, but long. All these are part of the expression given by our sunny weather, but also the acidity because of the altitude.
We read that you’ve always been into chemistry. Are you doing anything interesting with your wines now?
I studied Chemistry at University before making my winemaking degree, but the truth is that I’m much more involved in the work in the vineyard than in the analysis of the wines. Actually, I find it is more important to develop this area, and big changes could be made there (working more organically and more efficiently, for example) in viticulture.
What’s one thing not many people know about Cortijo Los Aguilares?
That our vines have been grown organically since the beginning, and that we have been certified in that field many years ago.
What’s a wine you tried recently that you fell in love with?
I very much like a Malbec that my husband makes in a winery quite close to ours. It’s called Bodegas Conrad Cristina, and I love it!