When you think about Spanish wine, chances are that the first name that springs to mind is Rioja. And when you think about Rioja, the name you need to know is Beronia, famous for its easy-to-match wines that are best shared with friends.
Bodegas Beronia was founded in 1973 by a group of food-loving friends from the Basque Country who spent their holidays in Rioja. On one of their trips, the friends formed a txoko in the small town of Ollauri in Rioja Alta. Northern Spain has a long tradition of txokos, which are gastronomic societies where friends meet to cook and share food and wine. Unsatisfied with the wine on offer, Beronia’s founders started making their own Reserva and Gran Reserva wines that would be worthy of partnering their culinary achievements. And so, Bodegas Beronia was born – a wine for food lovers, created by food lovers.
Beronia is one of the most renowned Spanish wineries, producing pure and traditional Rioja wines with their own personality
Today Beronia is one of the most renowned Spanish wineries, producing pure and traditional Rioja wines with their own personality and distinct Beronia style. Only a limited number of grape varieties are authorised to make Rioja’s wines. More than 85% of Beronia’s vineyards are planted with Tempranillo, the most traditional grape variety in Rioja, while the balance is made up of Graciano, Mazuelo, Garnacha and Viura.
Rioja is characterised by hundreds of small, individually owned vineyard parcels. The longstanding relationships between the Beronia winery and growers is nurtured to ensure that only the very best quality fruit is supplied. Beronia’s winemaker, Matias Calleja (pictured), personally supervises the vineyards throughout the year, and carefully selects the best vineyard plots for each of his wines.
From the beginning, Beronia has been committed to matching fantastic wine to fantastic food, and you’ll find its wines served in restaurants that share this passion. Pintxos and tapas are a particularly good match for Beronia, as they re-create the sharing experience that brought Beronia’s founders together back in the 1970s.
“We’ve stocked Beronia for several years now, and it was an instant hit with our customers,” says Richard Bigg, the managing director at tapas specialist Camino. “No matter the climatic variations from one vintage to the next, Beronia always produces a full yet fresh and deeply satisfying wine that our customers absolutely love. Being available by the magnum and jeroboam makes for the ultimate big party wine, and we even sold half a dozen or so 15-litre nebuchadnezzars last Christmas – an unforgettable treat!”
“Beronia is a classic – iconic, even – Rioja,” agrees César Garcia, group head chef of Ibérica. “It’s versatile, easy drinking and can be enjoyed with many different foods and on many different occasions. Personally, I enjoy it most when I’m eating Ibérica croquetas, twice-cooked lamb or pitu rice. A glass of Beronia goes nicely with our pork cuts, too.”
But Beronia’s versatility means that it’s not just a good match for Spanish food. Legendary wine bar The Cork & Bottle in Leicester Square (and now Paddington) sells almost 200 bottles a month of Beronia Gran Reserva – not least because it offers excellent value for money, according to assistant general manager Christelle Lecomte.
When you open a bottle of Beronia, it’s as if the sunshine of La Rioja has entered the room
While Lecomte says that Beronia Gran Reserva is a good match for red meat, game and cheese, it goes especially well with The Cork & Bottle’s braised ox cheek. “When you open a bottle of Beronia, it’s as if the sunshine of La Rioja has entered the room,” she says. “Beronia Gran Reserva displays the best of Rioja Alta, with intense, prolonged aromas of black fruit, sweet spice and cocoa over a base of tobacco."
So next time you’re looking for a wine that will match pretty much any food you care to partner it with – and please all of your friends’ palates – Beronia is the only name you need to know.
Three to try
Beronia Rioja Crianza
How does it taste? Made predominantly from Tempranillo, with some Garnacha and Mazuelo, this Crianza is intensely fruity, with blackberry and strawberry character. Ageing in mixed French and American oak barrels for 12 months gives hints of spice and vanilla.
Try it with: Ham croquetas; patatas bravas with a spicy sauce; steak marinated in garlic, paprika and thyme.
£23.00, Meson don Felipe
Beronia Rioja Reserva
How does it taste? The award-winning Beronia Reserva is matured for 20 months in mixed French and American oak barrels. It has complex flavours of wild fruits, chocolate and leather, with hints of clove and sweet spice. A well-structured wine with a velvety texture, fine tannins and a lingering finish.
Try it with: Full-flavoured Spanish ingredients such as morcilla, piquillo peppers and goats’ cheese, or a warming dish of lamb shanks cooked in white wine with prunes and pine nuts, which will match the richness of the wine.
How does it taste? Made from the Viura grape variety, this dry white Rioja is young and crisp with fresh and lively citrus aromas and delicious tropical fruit notes.
Try it with: Spanish omelettes, especially anything involving fish and seafood; fried padrón peppers scattered with Maldon rock salt; roast chicken with courgettes and feta cheese.
£24.00, Bar 44
For more Beronia and food matches, visit beroniatxoko.co.uk/recipes/