Abadía Retuerta is firmly committed to providing training for wine professionals since 2018. Its in-person courses, intended primarily for sommeliers and students, are complemented with engaging online lectures which are now available on Youtube.
Taking into account the interruption of activities in 2020 and the first months of 2021 in terms of in-person events, the Terroir Academy considers it a success to have been able to provide training to more than a thousand wine professionals and students since its creation in 2018.
The programme is particularly attractive because it combines academic training with tastings that enable participants to discover, for example, the distinguishing features that different types of soils may impart to the wine. Indeed, a comparison of three estate Tempranillos grown on sandy, alluvial and clay soils is one of the most popular activities in the course.
Now, these in-person courses are complemented by the “Terroir Academy Dialogues”, a series of online talks conducted by leading professionals which are veritable master classes. Live viewing is restricted to students and alumni of the programme, but the videos are later uploaded to Youtube making them accessible to all enthusiasts.
Anocíbar and Delbeck in tandem
The first of these talks, held in mid-April, featured our fantastic winemaking tandem —Pascal Delbeck, advisor at Abadía Retuerta since the birth of the project, and our technical director Ángel Anocíbar. They addressed the highly topical issue of organic viticulture in its broadest sense and in the context of sustainability.
Pascal Delbeck’s experience is particularly valuable, as he first became interested in biodiversity and environmental issues in the 1970s, always seeking to balance the plant in its particular climatic and geographical setting.
Delbeck and Anocíbar talked about the importance of preserving biodiversity in the vineyards, how to deal with traditional fungal diseases, the need to work with living soils and biodynamics.
On the subject of biodynamics, Delbeck pointed out that certain treatments may be very useful in specific circumstances, but working 100% biodynamically demands that the grower pays constant attention to the vineyard. This inevitably limits the area that a single person can manage, which he estimates to be between five and seven hectares.
They also discussed the evolution of trends and styles in the world of wine, the need to see water as a limited resource that will be a determining factor in the viticulture of the future and the importance of reducing bottle weight, since it has the greatest impact on the wine industry’s carbon footprint. They concluded the master class with insightful thoughts on climate change and the importance of achieving the right balance between the varieties that are best suited to the new circumstances and the typicity of a particular region.
Two Masters of Wine are invited to the next event. Sarah Jane Evans MW, the British specialist in Spanish wines, and winemaker Almudena Alberca MW, with extensive experience in Ribera del Duero —she has been in charge of the wines of Dominio de Atauta and is now technical director of Viña Mayor and of the entire Bodegas Palacio 1894 group. They will focus on Tempranillo, the dominant red variety in the Duero Valley and Rioja, discussing its characteristics, strengths, weaknesses and the challenges it poses for Spanish producers in the future.