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Annual Caballeros dinner honours two new members

Two new members have been welcomed into the Gran Orden de Caballeros del Vino in recognition of their 'tireless promotion' and 'exceptional contribution' to the Spanish wine industry.

José Velo-Rego and María José López de Heredia

The annual celebration held in London last night (18 March) saw María José López de Heredia from Rioja’s Bodegas López de Heredia Viña Tondonia and José Velo-Rego from UK importer and distributor C&D Wines enter the elite group, which translates as the Noble Order of Spanish Wine Knights.

The pair received their honours in front of 350 people, comprising many of Spain’s top producers and representatives from across the UK wine trade, during a ceremonial dinner held at The Dorchester Hotel.

María José López de Heredia, who was praised for ‘ensuring the traditional values of her family’s winemaking have remained ever relevant in the 21st century’ became the sixth women honoured in the organisation’s 30 year history. She joins wine writers and DWWA Regional Chairs Sarah Jane Evans MW and Angela Muir MW as well as wine writer Charlotte Hey, plus Christine Forner of Marques de Caceres and Melissa Draycott, sales director at Gonzalez Byass.

Speaking to Decanter.com during the evening, she said: ‘I feel very happy to be a part of the Gran Orden. I feel a responsibility to continue doing something that can be of value for Spain, so it’s an honour and a responsibility.

‘I think Spanish wine as a target wants to be equal to any wine that’s considered extraordinary and we fight for that.’

Velo-Rego, who is celebrating 20 years at C&D Wines, promoting Spanish wines to the London on-and-off trade, said it was a ‘privilege and an honour’ to join the order. But, he added, ‘I think I’m far too old. We need younger blood to move to do more for Spanish wine and to move it forward, to bring new ideas and new concepts.

‘I think Spanish wine is in a good phase at the moment but I see the progression of Spanish white wines. We already know we have the best red wines in the world but I think the whites are in full development and they will keep getting better. ‘

Velo-Rego also praised the prevalence of fine Spanish restaurants in London. ‘The London restaurant scene is fantastic, to have Arzac (Ametsa with Arzak Instruction) with one Michelin star is so encouraging, also Cambio te Tercio, Iberica, Hispania, Camino, Barrafina, it’s a great success’.

As well as welcoming the two new members, the organisation also paid tribute to the passing of two Caballeros members in the last year; Nicholas Burridge from Burridge Wines and Mauricio Gonzales-Gordon Diex from Gonzalez Byass.

A special mention was also made of the loss of Michael Cox, the Europe director of Wines of Chile, whose brother David was present at the ceremony.

The evening’s menu of ham hock and chicken presse, beef wellington and bread and butter pudding was prepared by Dorchester Chef Henry Brosi and accompanied by wines chosen in advance in a blind tasting by the members of the Gran Orden de Caballeros del Vino.

The wines included Juvé y Camps Cinta Púrpura Brut Reserva 2010, Williams & Humbert Manzanilla Alegr ía, Pazo de Señoráns Selección de Añada 2006, Waitrose Solera Jerezana Dry Amontillado, Coto de Hayas 2012, Valserrano Reserva 2007, Mía Moscato NV and Torres 10 Imperial Brandy Gran Reserva.

Written by Georgina Hindle

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