When I realized that I would be bumming around Spain for a bit, the winemaker I was immediately referred to was Telmo Rodriguez. Besides being one of Spain’s biggest winemakers, Telmo is known for supporting the Return to Terroir movement. He creates authentic Spanish wines at a reasonable price point, in opposition to the popular Super Riojas that also happen to be super expensive. With seven different wineries around the country, Telmo is most definitely a busy man. However, I was lucky enough to be able to steal him away for a tea break to discuss surfing, art, and oh yes… wine.
Telmo is an avid surfer and the first thing he mentioned was that he was escaping the wine world the following day in search of the famous wave Rodiles found in northern coastal city of Asturias. As someone originally from California, it was music to my ears to know this about a man so influential in the Spanish wine industry. In fact, the more I learned about Telmo, the more I realized that the art of surfing happens to be very in line with the art of Telmo’s winemaking. In order to be a good surfer, you must first be aware that you are not the one in control – the 15 foot wave coming at you is. A surfer must find a balance between respecting nature, knowing how to catch the wave and, once this is met, simply enjoying the ride.
With wine, Telmo is adamant about respecting nature. So much so that all of his wineries are organic and a few are biodynamic. Respecting Spanish traditions, Telmo sticks to the old style bush vines instead of the world wide popular style of trellising which, according to him, aren’t interesting and destroy the landscape. The revival of indigenous Spanish grapes are also very important to Telmo, who has been very outspoken against the colonization of international grapes in Spain. All of this, in addition to small size wineries that emphasize the “human” element in winemaking, allows Telmo to not just make good organic wine, but real wines with real tastes; wines that are easy, honest and good quality for the money.
Telmo also happens to be a big lover of art and a key player within the art and cultural organization La Fabrica located in Madrid. While writing some wine stories for La Fabrica’s art house magazine Matador, Telmo also enjoys directing art and wine projects such as a recent “literary tasting;” consisting of pairing wines with selected literary works including a passage from Shakespeare. Participatingin the art crowd is essential for Telmo who believes that it’s important to seek inspiration from non-wine people, and to mix it up, because after all, “life is a lot of things. Not just wine.”
Compañia de Vinos Telmo Rodriguez, S.L.
El Monte s/n
01308 Lanciego (Álava)