The vast and rural Spanish region of Rioja is home to some of Spain’s most famous wines. Due to its immense success on the international market, it’s also become known for a very particular style of wine; often quite ripe styles with oak influence.
But there are growers in the region who are determined to create something unique; something that stands out from the crowd. Bodegas Moraza is one of these domaines, led by the talented Janire Moraza (who goes by Julia). Julia wants to do things her way, to best express the terroirs of her area, San Vicente de la Sonsierra, in Rioja Alta.
And we must admit, we love Rioja, Julia-style.
People: Janire (Julia) Moraza and Patricio Moraza, and the extended Moraza family
Place: San Vicente de la Sonsierra, Rioja Alta, Spain
Varieties: Tempranillo, Garnacha, Graciano and Viura
Did You Know? Although Rioja is famous for its joven/crianza/reserve/grand reserva designations, Julia does not adhere to these (they require you to age the wine for a certain amount of time in oak). For her, it doesn’t make sense that this should be the focal point. She explains,
“The first mention of Crianza was in 1979 - kind of late! If you find a bottle from the 60s, it will say Cosecha (meaning vintage — the year the wine was made) 1967 for example, not Crianza. Many of those wines were made in barrels, but very big barrels that were super old, so it gave no flavour to the wine. I like to work in concrete, as you get a similar effect to those large old oak barrels. But to make a wine that’s labelled with Crianza now, it has to be aged in a Bordeaux barrel of 225L —much smaller and when they’re new you get very strong oak flavours.”
For a long time, they worked organically without certification. But after a while, they realised they wanted to certify for transparency:
“Certification means more paperwork, but we feel it is important to show people who don’t know us that we work organically.”
When Julia was beginning to get more involved with the farming, she came across biodynamics, and decided to apply for certification. Her father asked her what it was. She remembers,
“I explained about the moon cycle, and the integration of herbs into vineyards, and he said… that’s what we do! I told him, it has a name and there’s a certification.”
At that stage, they hadn’t yet done the preparations 500 and 501 (the cow manure and the silica), but they had always meticulously followed the lunar cycle with regards to pruning in the vineyard and racking in the winery. Next, together with her husband, she’s exploring how to make her vineyards even more diverse: