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New release from Chivite after boardroom upheavals

Leading Navarra producer Chivite is launching a second wine from its top estate, Arínzano.

The wine, launched in Madrid on Monday, marks the return to the family business of Julián Chivite, a member of the 11th generation of the ancient family.

In April this year Julian Chivite took over charge of the business after being ousted in a well-publicised split from his brother Fernando in 2011.

Bordeaux consultant Denis Dubourdieu is consultant winemaker on the project.

Dubourdieu has worked for Chivite for 20 years but it was not until the launch of Arínzano this week that the family made his contribution public.

As a result of this behind-the-scenes role, he calls himself the ‘oenologue caché’ (hidden winemaker), but he said he can now acknowledge he has been the influence on Coleccion 125, widely regarded as Spain’s best Chardonnay, much-praised for its restrained use of oak, and its ‘Burgundian’ character.  

Dubourdieu has no other clients in Spain, having agreed an exclusive arrangement at the outset.  

Arínzano was purchased by the Chivite family in 1988. It became northern Spain’s first Vino de Pago (VP), the highest classification, which recognises a single estate as its own denomination.

There are 14 Vinos de Pago in Spain; another Navarra wine, Prado Irache, the estate wine of Bodegas Irache, gained VP status in 2008.

Arínzano itself was launched in 2000, and retails from €60.

La Casona, a 75% Tempranillo, 25% Merlot blend, is the second wine and will be retailing in Spain at around €22.

Dubourdieu said his contribution to Chivite is to add finesse and ageability to the wine.

‘I was always sure good wines were made in difficult conditions. Just as with people, difficulty strengthens the individual. It was the ambition of the Chivite family to make something remarkable at the extreme northern limit of Tempranillo. There are no predestined vineyards, just obstinacy.’

Future plans include a Casona Chardonnay. Syrah and Roussanne are also showing promise, Dubourdieu said.

Written by Sarah Jane Evans

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