Tom's on a mission to make you fall in love with a different side of Rioja
Despite calling it home for over 18 years, Tom is known as a foreigner in Rioja. He stands out even more by avoiding the traditional winemaking style of the area; championing instead varieties like Garnacha and Graciano.
It’s tough in Rioja at the moment. With most of the oldest (and best) vineyards belonging to the older generation whose families are now more interested in big city life. Tom says either big commercial wineries must take over or small, independent winemakers should step in and preserve the beauty and history of the land. Cue, Angel Funding!
Tom’s passion and enthusiasm for his region is infectious and he cannot wait for Angels' feedback. Hearing the opinions first hand from his ‘final judges’, as he calls them, is an opportunity he’s never had so form an orderly queue and give a big, Naked welcome to Tom.
Map of the Vineyard
"As soon as I heard about Naked, I thought it was a brilliant idea! I give a very big importance to the final consumer who is for me the most important critic, the final judge! Being directly connected to Angels is a real opportunity to improve my winemaking by getting direct information from my clients' feelings about the wines.
I love the fact that we, winegrowers, are the guardians of environment and countryside. We are taking care of our landscapes, we're taking care of the earth. What a great responsibility!
I fell in the "jungle" in 1996, in Raphine, Virgnia, USA. I was studying Agriculture in France (specializing in Viticulture and Winemaking) and had to do a training period abroad. I spent 4 months at Rockbridge Vineyard, a small family estate where I had to deal with viticulture, harvest, winemaking, sales at the tasting room... this experience definitely confirmed that I wanted to make wine and this way of life was the way and I wanted!
I've always felt very closed to nature and countryside, I grew in a small village in Gascony where agriculture plays a big role socially speaking. I guess that Viticulture is the only segment of agriculture where you can improve, express and enhance your product. By your work, by your inspiration you're able to create a unique product. I always say I make wine to make people happy! Isn't that the best mission you could be in charge of?
Naked asked me what made our wines special. Maybe the fact that I am a "foreigner" in Rioja, I came from Bordeaux 18 years ago and I'm certainly bringing a very different and personal vision of viticulture and winemaking. I chose to give more protagonism to varietals like Garnacha and Graciano, to systematically blend all varietals in the wines. I'm avoiding the classical style of Rioja (American oak, oxidation.)
I love Tempranillo for its texture and structure, Garnacha for its fruit and softness; Graciano impresses me because of its freshness and complexity. All Rioja is just fascinating: so many different terroirs and climates. I also feel very attracted by the white varieties. I'm sure we can make great whites in Rioja.
My biggest moments of joy have been when I have discovered a new plot to rent or buy, there are a lot of very old plots in Rioja. It's a very strange feeling when you think that 50/60 years of history are going to be part of your creation! The biggest sorrows? Better to forget them, but when you see a very old vineyard being ripped off it is hard to forget. So frustrating thinking about the wines that could have been made…
All the money I'm earning is reinvested into the vineyards. We are in a very challenging moment now in Rioja. Most of the very old (and best) vineyard belongs now to old people (>70) that can not work them any more, their sons have gone to big cities and are not interested in viticulture anymore.
So 2 options for this patrimony:
- to fall into the hands of big industrial wineries that will rip them off and plant the industrial way for massive production
- to be rescued by small independent wine makers that will recover them with the hope of making exciting top class wines.
Angel funding will help to preserve the beauty of a patrimony, of a region and environment and of course save the best grapes that can be found in Rioja.
As a small producer, we don't have many opportunities to meet our final customers. We deal with importers or distributors but we don't get the real pulse of the market. Working with Angel funding establishes a a strong and direct relation with wine lovers. This exchange is very important to adapt your work, to understand your market's needs and indeed makes it much more interesting.
First I'd like people to discover a new face of Rioja. I'd like people to fall in love with Rioja as I did myself 18 years ago. I want people to get surprised tasting a new style within the classical Rioja context.
Second, all the money that could be collected from this crowd funding activity will be reinvested in buying old vines and in that way preserve the gorgeous patrimony of Rioja."
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