Even if the official name of this winery is Heredad de San Andrés, it is generally known known as Cupani, its main brand. The name comes from an old synonym for Tempranillo which appears in a 19th century viticulture treaty.
This small family operation was set up in San Vicente de la Sonsierra (Rioja Alta) in 2001 following the acquisition of a small winery by Enrique Eguíluz and his wife Magdalena de Mendoza, both of them with a long-standing wine growing tradition in the area. Their children Enrique and Miguel are fully involved in the business and stand out among the new generation of young producers in the village.
The family produces fewer than 13,000 bottles, all of then sourced from their own 12 hectares of head pruned vineyards. Enrique senior was a misunderstood pioneer who stopped using herbicides as early as 1992 and chose to plant green covers.
San Andrés is one of their most special vineyards. Grapes go to Cupani (€18, fewer than 3,000 bottles), their reliable, firm, fresh and expressive entry-level red. Extending over 3.5 hectares, the 35-year-old vines are planted on a north-facing clay-limestone slope at an elevation of 537 metres. Standing right next to the necropolis of San Andrés and several stone presses, this is a special place full of energy.
The family’s two premium reds are sourced from another remarkable vineyard. Located at 542 meters above sea level close to Labastida, vines are grown on clay-ferrous soils over sandstone rock. The family has been buying small plots in this area and now own over one hectare. The fantastic, fragrant, juicy Cupani Garnacha (€32) is made from just 800 vines planted in 1917. It is later aged for 11 months in 225-litre used barrels.
Baskunes (2,800 bottles, €32) comes from three Tempranillo plots which were planted in 1954, 1966 and 1975. The wine spends 24 months in new French oak barrels. With a firm, structured profile, but plenty of acidity, this is one to lay in the cellar.