Ramiro Ibañez and Willy Perez

Since he will be coming to Madrid soon I thought I would revisit and update this post from last October about Ramiro Ibañez and (although Willy is not coming to Madrid as far as I know) give some recognition to his Jerez based partner in crime while I am at it.

Last October I shared a cracking piece by Spanish Wine Lover about Ramiro Ibañez, the maverick winemaker behind exciting projects such as EncrucijadoPitijopos, PandorgaUBE, and Manzanilla de Añada, as well as many other more traditional, but top class wines (including, in particular, El Cerro and La Maruja). In the eight months since then though he and Willy Perez have been up to all sorts.

First, they have been writing. The so called Sobrinos de Haurie are writing a new history of the wines of the region, of which the first section is already available. Churchill once famously said that history was going to treat him kindly because he was going to “write it himself” (and he did) but these guys are driven by higher motives. In fact it is one of the things that most impresses about them: maverick as they may appear, they are not just experimenting for the sake of it. Rather, they evidently venerate the history of the region, feel the responsibility of continuing its traditions and want to restore the region’s past greatness.

Second, they have been revitalizing the local tourist industry. I was fortunate enough to be invited down for a visit by Ramiro and Willy in March and it was quite remarkable. Not just the visit to the pagos and the explanation of the ideas but the demonstration of how those pagos and those ideas translate into wines. Different class. And I was not alone: they seem to have spent most of their weekends this spring putting their case to bloggers and writers of every fur and feather – including proper writers such as Victor de la Serna and Andrew Jefford, amongst others. They are also happy to share their knowledge and photos with bloggers (thanks guys), spend days commenting on articles at all hours of day and night and frankly do whatever is necessary to get the message out.

Third, they have been involved in some pretty interesting debates and initiatives – including high profile catas at Vinoble and elsewhere, and the lower profile but even more interesting Manifesto 119, aimed at encouraging local winemakers to recover forgotten varieties.

Most importantly, they continue to win their arguments the best way possible: by banging out cracking wines. The next volume of the Pitijopos could well be the most important lesson you could learn about terroir in Sanlucar – breath is bated. Volume II of the Manzanilla de Añada was announced ready today, UBE 2014 was as good as expected, and Willy’s Fino la Barajuela 2013 exceeded even my fanboy expectations.

Technical excellence, respect for tradition, hard work, generosity, imagination and energy, and top class wines. If these guys didn’t exist, we would have to invent them.



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