A cluster of notable terroirs, vineyards and wineries in Rioja Alta’s Sierra Cantabria has given this area the moniker ‘Golden Mile’. It is here that the Sánchez Antón family and Bodegas Cornelio Dinastía have been crafting suitably impressive wines for over eight generations.
Cornelio Dinastía’s hard-earned skill has yielded outstanding results, illustrated by a haul of two gold and six silver medals at DWWA 2020. Its wines divide neatly between two separate lines: Vega Vella and Cornelio. Winemaking is based on the bodega’s most valuable assets, namely the organic expertise that inspires the Vega Vella wines and 25ha of old vines which lie behind the Cornelio releases.
From vineyards located in Eastern Rioja – an exceptional spot for farming organically – Vega Vella trades on more idiosyncratic varietals and styles, including Graciano, a white Grenache-Sauvignon Blanc blend and a white Grenache fermented in concrete egg. Polished, modern and fruit-driven yet structured, this diverse range of 13 wines is testament to Cornelio Dinastía’s 30-plus years of experience with organic growing.
Winemakers Basilio and José María Pangua are well versed in the pitfalls and pluses of organics. ‘You do have to take the utmost care to avoid unwanted bacteria, disease and microorganisms, but there are so many benefits,’ says Pangua. ‘Other than a product free of pesticides, the biodiversity of the vineyard increases – via competing flora and fauna – thanks to the special microclimate that organic farming propitiates. The grapes also learn to defend themselves, increasing their potential and leading to a more marked terroir.’
The Cornelio vineyards are situated in the more Atlantic-influenced Rioja Alta. There are over 20 micro-plots, averaging 1ha in size; the oldest parcels were planted in the 1950s, while even the youngest are over 35 years old. Spanning a variety of aspects and soils, these sites offer tremendous diversity and flexibility within the classic Rioja template.
‘We base our Cornelio wines on the most typical varieties from Rioja, such as Tempranillo and Viura,’ explains owner, José María Sánchez Antón. ‘With these old vineyards, sustainable practices and minimal intervention, we aim to deliver the highest expression of these indigenous varieties.’
With plans to open another winery geared towards enotourism, Cornelio Dinastía continues to blossom, steadily increasing its international presence and remaining open to new partnerships. However its unique terroir forms the bedrock of its success. ‘We have worked these same rough soils in Sierra Cantabria for centuries,’ states Antón. ‘Being both viticulturist and viniculturist, we farm with the aim of quality not quantity. The varied altitudes, geology and orientations is what grants our wines their personality and character; the body and soul of Rioja.’
For more information please visit bodegascornelio.com/en