Martínez Alesanco: the new generation’s commitment to terroir

Pilar and Pedro Torrecilla transform the family winery into a veritable experimental workshop with their focus on local varieties and the identity of Badarán.

Nada que Ver (little in common). With this statement, Bodegas Pedro Martínez Alesanco presented a few years ago its Maturana Tinta wine, a red grape rescued as part of a project to recover minority varieties. After a decade of work and experimentation, the Badarán-based winery is championing red wines made with this grape variety. Pilar Torrecilla is in charge of winemaking at the family winery, and has updated the traditional range (Crianza and Reserva) and launched new wines, such as Nada que Ver. "I have been working at the winery since 2001 and, little by little, we have gradually adapted things, working hard in the vineyard and in the selection process, focusing on local grape varieties," explains Pilar.

A wine growing family, Martínez Alesanco own 80 hectares of vineyards. The bodega is spearheading a new generation of wines with the new local Maturana Tinta lending its distinctive personality. "Mazuelo and Graciano do not adapt well to our area and the discovery of Maturana, with Professor Fernando Martínez de Toda in 2004, was a real boost for our wines," says Pilar Torrecilla. In this regard, the winemaker champions Martínez Alesanco Selección as the estate's great wine, which blends Tempranillo, Maturana Tinta and Garnacha Tinta in practically identical quantities: "Garnacha is not the poor sister of Tempranillo, it is perfectly suitable for ageing if it is grown and handled well; we have talked at length about Maturana, while Tempranillo is very well adapted to this cool area.”

The inquisitiveness of both Pilar and her brother Pedro, now involved in a substantial expansion of the winery to make it more comfortable, has turned Martínez Alesanco into a true workshop of ideas and experimentation. In addition to the traditional range (red, white and clarete, all of them unoaked) and the reds with some ageing (Crianza, Reserva and Gran Reserva), the winery launched Martínez Alesanco Fermentado en Barrica, a blend of Viura with a small amount of recently planted Tempranillo Blanco. Pilar Torrecilla's personal challenge is the singular Martínez Alesanco Rosado Fermentado en Barrica, one of the few examples of rosés aged in oak in Rioja. She has recently launched her first organic wine (Garnacha and Tempranillo) as the business moves gradually towards organic production, together with a spectacular old vine Garnacha dating from 1905. Pilar is also exploring the new sparkling wines from Rioja, as the family vineyards are located in an exceptional area for this type of vinification.