The allegory
of Quel

our town

There among the golden harvest,
gently waving, Zephyr,
The shy quail continues to sing
its joyful song

Manuel Bretón de los herreros
‘Mi Lugar’.

The wine of the village

Mi Lugar was created as a shining tribute to the tradition which the Pérez Cuevas family has been working to restore. The wine of Quel: genuine, proud and noble comes from a selection of small plots where only the best grapes are harvested and delivered to the winery of Queirón, which represents the ninth cave in a neighborhood full of Dionysus worshippers. A structure that stands as an homage to the traditional and hardworking townsfolk of Quel, immortalized through the words of the poet Don Manuel in his poem “Mi Lugar”, or “My Place”.

Croquis Mi Lugar Queirón

Bacchus graces us
with his delights

A wine sculpted from the soul of a terroir. An allegory of a small town in Rioja with its roots buried in an ancient tradition which is beautifully portrayed by the poet and playwright native to Quel, Manuel Bretón de los Herreros (1796-1873) in a beautiful romantic poem titled “Mi Lugar.”
Allí sus delicias Baco

Quel is its name, full of the poor;
but replete with gifts (…)
Minerva there with her treasures and
Bacchus there with his earthly delights

Manuel Bretón de los herreros
‘Mi Lugar’.
Y sus templos

… and its
temples

Manuel Bretón de los Herreros describes the amazing Barrio de Bodegas de Quel in one of his book of poetry: “There are other parallel cliff faces; although not quite as high, but more easily accessible by foot, so much so, that with ease and with little cost (the inhabitants) have been able to carve out over three hundred wineries (some very spacious), a number almost equal to that of the town’s population. The grape harvest is collected in the vineyards behind the cellars, and is so abundant that it has been necessary to establish a new population of caves in her honor. Bacchus has more temples here than he had in Greece.”

Vintage 2017
The year 2017 was significantly ma ked by an unusual frost at the end of April, as well as by the great drought that continued throughout the entire vegetation period of the vine. This resulted in low production levels but offered fruit of the highest quality. Another defining characteristic of this growing year was that it was one of the earliest harvests on record due to the high temperatures recorded during the Summer months. In addition, the heat decimated pests and other diseases, which together contributed to low yields and helped to obtain wines of great structure and great aptitude.

 

Winemaking
Made exclusively with the best berries from each plot, there are three separate levels of selection made to achieve the quality and personality of Mi Lugar. The first selection process is made in the vineyards themselves, the second one is made when the grape bunches arrive at the winery and after destemming, and the third selection is made at the time of sorting each individual grape. Each step is carried out entirely by gravity flow, in order to take advantage of the traditional process in winemaking. From the time the grapes arrive at the winery, they are sorted by hand, and are then handled with minimal intervention and extreme care in protecting the integrity of the grapes themselves as well as the must and subsequently the wine itself from any unnecessary manipulation, such as mechanical pump overs.
A prefermentation maceration is carried out for five days. The second step is an extended maceration, which is carried out gently and in a prolonged manner (more than 18 days), with temperatures between 22 and 26oC. Malolactic fermentation takes place in French oak barrels. Another essential characteristic to Mi Lugar is the 18 months it spends in very high quality barrels, of 20 percent American oak and 80 percent French oak, each with a differing level of toast. The final process before bottling culminates in aging the wine another six months in stainless stell tank, to further develop the quality of the wine that is to be born.

2017

vintage

Mi Lugar

Technical data

Places / Vineyards El Poeta / La Perdida / La Bartola / Hoyo Judío
Altitude 620 – 670 m s.n.m.
Geoposition 42.2023492,-2.0328087
Winds 80% /// N-NO – 16 km/h
Leticia Pérez Cuevas

travel notes
on Mi Lugar

from the hands of
Leticia Pérez Cuevas

Found amidst impressive landscapes, in the surroundings areas of Quel, where sundrenched hillsides climb lazily towards the summits of the Sierra de Yerga mountain range, Leticia Pérez Cuevas (the fourth generation of viticulturists), has carefully composed a fascinating universe of tiny plots of vineyard land, located at heights above 600 meters, all of which have very poor soils, and struggle for productivity.
These vines are planted in the bushtrained – “en vaso”, or Gobelet style. Our Mi Lugar cuvée is a selection of the best Garnacha grapes from the vineyards of El Poeta, La Bartola and La Perdida and the best Tempranillo grapes from El Arenal and Hoyo Judío. To discover Mi Lugar is to delve into the essence of the Cidacos Valley, one of the most little known and yet genuine landscapes of the Rioja Oriental subregion. The valley is marked by geological upheavals (phenomenas) that date back some 250 million years before our era, which define the orographic profiles and soil characteristics of these vineyards.
It is here where we become intimately familiar with the character of each of these parcels which are tended to and guided by the hand of Leticia Perez Cuevas, engineer of the European Space Agency (ESA), and the family’s vineyard manager par excellence. Leticia is in love with the biodiversity of the Queirón vineyards, which she dotes upon 365 days a year and through which she conducts herself as if in the courtyard of her very own home.
Full trip
The journey begins with our Grenache vineyard; ‘El Poeta’. It is a tiny plot of less than one Hectare, located in the ‘La Geriganza’ area. Old vines trained in the “en vaso” method are planted in very poor soils of sand and pebbles with layers of deep ancient clay, cracked by the roots of the vineyard in its strife to find the accumulated moisture located at the bottom of the subsoil. The vineyards are dry-farmed and carefully pruned to ensure the branches and leaves provide shelter and shade to the soil below. This also allows the soil to retain the relief necessary from the intense day-time heat given by the cooler night-time temperatures.
“The Poet writes little but each verse is poignant”
‘El Poeta’; The poet writes little but each verse is poignant. Much like the poet, the vines have low production levels due to the scarcity of rain. It is this austerity that affords us very concentrated Garnacha, intense in color, and yet extremely elegant and fresh. 2017 was a year of extreme weather patterns, with extensive heat waves and a severe drought. It is from these conditions, that the Garnacha from ‘El Poeta’ shows its complete affinity for this terroir. It is rustic, rugged and has an innate natural intelligence to perfectly manage water scarcity.
Leticia leads us to yet another treaure: ‘La Perdida’. It’s name comes from the fact that it is a difficult vineyard to find in a maze of roads and paths that lead to a “yasa”, or dried-up river bed, which in this area of Rioja Oriental evokes the powerful memory of a thirsty river bed inundated with an abundance of water flowing into it on the rare occasion of an intense and unexpected storm. A “yasa” is but a scar in the terrain, a ravine with two banks comprised of soil and silt. Reaching ‘La Perdida’ is a bit of an adventure. Just when we think we are on the wrong path, we arrive in front of a short, narrow farm of just two hectares, divided into two terraces with an astonishing fifteen-meter slope. It is located in the middle of the path of an old “Cañada Real”, a cattle Path, that once linked Soria with Quel. This path gives the vineyard a historical character that reinforces a deep tradition of viticulture that shows itself by long rows of vaso-trained vineyards, invaluable exposure to the sun and important differences in day and night time temperature.
The third Garnacha property that con- tributes to the ‘Mi Lugar’ blend is called ‘La Bartola’ vineyard, located on a slight hill in front of ‘La Perdida.’ Leticia is clear in explaining that this vineyard is very different from the previous ones. You must traverse another winding road through the Queleño fields dotted with reeds, as well as almond, cherry and olive trees. ‘La Bartola’ has two landmarks that differentiate it, one at the extreme end of the dried up stream of ‘La Perdida’ and the other, an old ‘guardaviña’ where one can spot tracks of the local deer and wild boars that frequent the area during sunrise and sunset.

These are moments of extreme beauty and are her favorite times of day to roam this unique enclave while inspecting the buds and eventual ripening of fruit. The vines of ‘La Bartola’ are old, proud, powerful and hold great stature. The landscape is also identified by numerous “morgones”, otherwise known as a method in Rioja viticulture where canes from adjacent vines are dug into the soil, creating a new plant from the vineyard’s oldest vines. Leticia stresses that those on this farm are very well trained and vigorously resist hot summers and require no additional water, other than what is naturally absorbed by the earth, during the low rainfall of the spring season. The soil of ‘La Bartola’ is arid, sandy and with few stones. The soil here is dried and cracked. These heavenly Garnacha vines are brave and offer intense colour, aroma and incredible finesse

The vines that comprise
La Bartola are old,
proud, upright and powerful….
Guardaviñas
Mi Lugar
Here you must climb to heights of 675 meters, levels that flirt with the cultivation limits and where this essential Riojan grape variety offers its ultimate elegance and longevity. The wine-growers of Quel know that Tempranillo does not always know how to shut down during the heat of summer and continues to transpire, which means it can potentially suffer more than Garnacha in hot climates. This is why the elevation and the temperature shifts that occur between night and day are essential. These high elevation vineyards are naturally protected. The roots are forced to go deeper and this strain, over the years, achieves a balance between vegetative growth and the demands of the fruit.
Ripe Tempranillo, with balanced acidity and very elegant tannins that combine perfectly with the intense color of the old Garnacha to offer singular wines with body and delicacy. ‘El Arenal’, as its name underlines, is a multitude of sand, sand and more sand, without stones or any traces of clay. Poor soil demands the roots work tirelessly.
Leticia maintains
that the Tempranillo
in this part of Rioja
is the height of excellence.
The last plot of the ‘Mi Lugar’ blend is the highest and most rugged. You must climb up to 700 meters in order to know it well. ‘Hoyo Judío’, which is the name of the plot, and is reached by the ancient vineyard road which goes towards the town of Villarroya. The Tempranillo vines here are surrounded by ridges and trenches caused by water runoff, especially during severe Summer storms.

The sand on the ground is dotted with stones and river rocks and Leticia underlines the importance of the local winds: “The air does not stop to move here and is synonymous with the health of the vines throughout the year. It is our greatest blessing”. These plots were planted at the end of the road and some of them have gradually been giving way each year, shrinking more than half a meter from their original location.

The air does not stop.
It is our
greatest blessing
Viñedo Hoyo Judío

vino
de Quel

The right to use the municipality (or the title “local wine”) in labeling wines of Rioja has been recognized for almost 20 years – since 1999. However, the new regulation recently approved by the Rioja DOCa Council allows these geographical entities to be given more visibility. The requirements to be able to bottle with the town or municipality on the wine label are that the grapes must come exclusively from the muni- cipality itself, and that the production, aging and bottling are also carried out in the same locale.
Mi Lugar, vino de pueblo

Chefe
Paniego

Sommelier at Portal del Echaurren
Ezcaray La Rioja
(two Michelin stars)

National Award of Gastronomy for the Best Head of House or
Maitre D.

Chefe Paniego

Remales
de amapolas

Mi Lugar is a promise of hope. When served in the glass, it explodes with aromas of red fruit and freshly picked cherries, has refreshing acidity and displays light toast and a touch of sali- nity that is reminiscent of of the Medi- terranean. Its lingering aromatics leave an impression of flowers, a field of ash and poppy branches. It is a wine that envelops the mouth. Fullness of flavor develops over time. We like to describe Mi Lugar as a young man full of meaning and determination. The years will certainly be its best ally. A great wine, its finish becomes silky and softens without losing its nerve. Is this the result of its soil that suffers and de- livers length in the mouth?

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