Marques De Grinon
Carlos Falco, the Marquis de Grinon, is an unlikely rebel. A grandee of the Spanish aristocracy, Carlos' family have been at the top of Spain's social strata since the 14th Century. However, after studying oenology at the University of Davis in California in the 1970s, Carlos was forced to battle and defy his country's bureaucracy in order to fulfill his dream of making top quality Cabernet Sauvignon at his home estate south of Madrid. His efforts were rewarded when Dominio de Valdepusa was awarded its own DO as a Pago estate in 2003. Having determined the suitability of Valdepusa's terroir for planting Cabernet whilst at Davis, Carlos was then denied permission to plant the grape as it was 'foreign'. His response was to smuggle in cuttings from France in a truck load of Granny Smith apple trees. Realising he needed irrigation, he set about planning and constructing a state of the art drip irrigation system that promoted quality rather than excess vigour. The Spanish government's response was to send twenty black cars filled with inspectors to document the breach in the law and fine the Marquis 150,000 pesetas. Lesser men would have given up at this point. It took until 1996 for the government to bend, and even then Cabernet was only permitted as an experimental grape. Nevertheless it was the chink of light that Carlos needed to bring his work into the open. Having worked with the great Bordelais consultant Emmanuel Peynaud in the 1970s, he now employed Peynaud's pupil and successor Michel Rolland to work in the cellars and the celebrated viticulturalist Dr Richard Smart to oversee the vineyards. Recent recruits to the on the pay roll include France's leading consultant in organic and biodynamic wines, Claude Bourgignon, who is working with the team at Valdepusa to improve the quality and vitality of the soils. This willingness to bring in expertise and utilize the latest technology has been the hallmark of the last fifteen years at Dominio de Valdepusa. With water stress such an important issue in the hot, arid Toledo summer, irrigation is now controlled by a computer that measures the amount each vine shrinks during the day. Amazingly it was developed from the same technology that Boeing use to measure the way metal expands as aeroplanes come into land. Valdepusa's house style is modern and rich with an international outlook. The wines definitely have more in common with Bordeaux or California than traditional Spanish reds. Unusually Tempranillo and Garnacha are conspicuous only by their absence. Instead it is Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot and Syrah that form the majority of plantings. All three are released as pure varietals (the 1994 Petit Verdot being the world's first release of wine made solely from that grape) and are blended together in both Summa Varietalis - a 'junior' cuvee designed for earlier drinking - and the flagship Emeritus.