Miguel Merino Riojas ’99 and ’01, Unnum ’02

the town of Briones, Spain I know it seems like I will never stop talking about the EWBC but we really packed a lot into the 2 1/2 days we were in Rioja. I can only imagine what the US Winebloggers Conference is going to be like in Sonoma, CA – which I will be flying back to the West Coast to attend in Oct. The last day of the conference was devoted to visiting wineries, Marques de Risquel – which I will blog about later, Bodegas Bilbainas – where we had our last lunch, and Miguel Merino Bodegas, a small winery smack in the middle of Briones. winery courtyard Briones is a quaintly medieval town set up on a hilltop. Historically, the grapes from the area were sent to wineries in Haro to be used in the best reserva wines. Miguel Merino, along with a few other boutique wineries, decided to set up shop here and take advantage of the excellent viticultural conditions surrounding the town. Although the winery is one of the youngest and smallest in Rioja, what it lacks in size it more then makes up for in quality. Miguel Miguel himself is quite a character. He regaled us with a story about his sorting table – of all things! During the harvest the workers use a mechanical sorting table to pick out the best grapes as they pass by. There are baskets at the feet of the workers, one on each side, where they throw out the grapes deemed unworthy. One basket is called “purgatory” and the other “hell”. The “purgatory” grapes get made into wine for family and friends. The “hell” grapes get picked up by a local farmer each day who feeds them to his cows. Miguel says the cows are known locally for being particulary disagreeable, breaking out of their enclosures and causing general havoc, but he doesn’t think it has anything to do with his “hell” grapes. We sampled 3 of his wines, the ’99 Gran...

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