Bodegas Cupani: the importance of the vineyard

The Eguíluz Mendoza family grows 16 hectares in San Vicente. The San Andrés vineyard, a walled clos under the village’s famous necropolis, is their landmark site.

Cupani is a historical term that was used prior to the arrival of phylloxera to refer to the Tempranillo grape variety. The Eguíluz Mendoza family has chosen it as their brand to build a new winemaking project around the 16 hectares they grow in the vicinity of San Vicente. Enrique Eguíluz, the father, decided in 1999 to leave the cooperative and focus body and soul on growing the vineyards inherited from his grandparents and parents. Now it is his sons, Miguel and Enrique, who have embarked on producing quality wines with just 25 barrels.

The family's vine growing origins go back several generations and their vineyards are dotted around various locations in San Vicente. One of them is a small plot of Garnacha in San Prudencio whose vines, almost a hundred years old, produce a spectacular yet low-yielding wine of this variety —barely enough to make 600 bottles.

Their flagship vineyard is a walled enclosure or clos that the family has rebuilt with their own hands at the foot of the San Andrés necropolis. This burial ground is one of the most important in the Sonsierra and commands breathtaking views, including the spectacular Santa María de la Piscina shrine, a Romanesque masterpiece, in the distance. The vineyards are more than 50 years old, farmed without herbicides, and the vegetation covering the soil competes with the vigour of the plants themselves. It’s an absolutely magical spot.

Both father and sons know San Vicente and the surrounding areas like the back of their hand, including the archaeological remains and the history of this region, which was often the scene of conflicts between the kingdoms of Castile and Navarre. Their white Rielo is sourced from their own Viura vineyards, the spectacular Cupani Garnacha mentioned earlier, Cupani Tempranillo and Baskunes, another extraordinary Tempranillo that goes through a painstaking selection and is sheer power and elegance. Their top wine is called Sir Cupani, a name chosen by Enrique Sr. to honour the nobility of the best Tempranillo grapes in the region. It is manually destemmed berry by berry from the oldest vineyards and produced only in certain vintages.