#StraitsTalk: Diego Santana, Export Director at Valenciso, one of Rioja’s best
Founded by husband and wife duo, Luis Valentin and Carmen Enciso (fun fact: their names Val+Enciso make up Valenciso) in 1998, Valenciso was quickly established as one of Spain’s top wineries over the past three decades. With tremendous experience in both old and new world style Rioja, the couple successfully became the most modern of the traditional producers, or the most traditional of the modern producers.
Photo Credit: Goodfoodrevolution
We had the pleasure of speaking with Diego Santana, Export Director at Valenciso while he was in town for a Straits Wine Dinner with Alegria as well as a Wine Masterclass at our Rail Mail outlet. Part of the Valenciso family for more than a decade, Diego has a wealth of experience in the wine industry and is also part of the winemaking process at the winery. If you’re drinking a bottle of Valenciso Reserva 2014 now, there’s a good chance he bottled it himself!
In this month’s #StraitsTalk, Diego dives deep into Valenciso, their winemaking philosophies and the winery’s best kept secret – read till the end to find out more and grab a bottle today. Complimentary same-day delivery available if you order before 6pm.
Hi Diego, welcome to Singapore! To start, could you give our readers a lowdown on Spanish wines and what makes them unique?
Spanish wineries and wines are very dynamic, diverse and most importantly bring authenticity to their winemaking. Dominated by small producers, the majority of the vineyards are family-owned and have proven throughout history that you can get very good value when it comes to Spanish wines. I’m not saying the region produces cheap wine but the authenticity that you get while drinking Spanish wines at very affordable prices makes it very valuable. Also, while there are still a few wineries that are brand-focused, many producers are trying to get their wines to become more approachable for consumers – focusing on quality, speciality and authenticity at a top price point.
At Valenciso, we have been clear on the style of wine we want since the beginning. In the old and traditional region of Rioja, we followed our belief of showing the freshness and elegant profile of tempranillo, producing only quality wines. Regardless of the changes and trends in the wine world, we stick to what we know and focus on creating the best wines only. And I think we have succeeded. With presence in more than 50 countries around the world, we have also received international praise and recognition from the industry over the years.
Photo Credit: Valenciso
That sounds amazing. Tell us more about Valenciso going organic in Rioja and the challenges that come with it?
Valenciso has actually always been growing our grapes organically from the beginning but only got our certification ten years ago amidst rising pressure from the industry to be officially certified. Rioja is not a region known for organic farming with only 3% of grapes grown organically so going organic from the start was a huge deal for us but also a great challenge that we were happy to take on. At Valenciso we believe that the best wines truly show the best expression of where you are located and are a reflection of the soil, the climate and its weather. Thus, we want our vines to grow as long as possible so as to allow the wines to achieve its best expression.
With climate change rapidly affecting the natural environment and conditions the vines grow in, it’s been a huge challenge to manage the changes but we have our trusted system in place and a great team who is amazingly dedicated to the work we do.
For the Singapore market, and perhaps including the wider Asia region, what do you think are the wine trends we can look out for in the next year or two?
I think Singapore is still pretty much a traditional market that tends to lean towards wines from France and Italy but in recent years, we’re starting to see more Asian interest in Australian wines as well since it’s pretty near to Singapore. I think it’s evident that Singaporeans are becoming more open to trying out wines from other regions such as Spain and Portugal where they can find similar styles of wines that they are used to. I personally believe that people have to be open to trying wines from all over the world, and this interest to discover more and go beyond their comfort zone is something we should be able to see from the Asian market in the next couple of years.
Lastly, what is Valenciso’s best kept secret?
Photo Credit: Jamón Jamón, productos Ibéricos
Valenciso is best known for its red wines but I personally think it’s the Valenciso Blanco that’s our hidden gem. It’s an elegant bottle made from the varieties of viura and white garnacha grapes that have fermented in oak barrels. In the mouth, the presence of wood is complemented with a subtle fruity taste and notes of pastry. (Editor’s note: It’s also part of the Honour Roll of the Gourmet Guide 2020!). People tend to look towards the more traditional regions when it comes to white wine but Spanish Whites can be quite impressive too.