Beatriz Pérez of young Bodega VidAs is the president of the Cangas Wine Protected Designation of Origin regulatory board. She has been on the job for over a year now and she is working extensively to raise awareness of the unique "Vino de Cangas" (Cangas wine) in Spain and abroad. In this interview she talks about her beloved Cangas wine and why we need to protect it.
How long have you been the President of the Cangas Wine PDO? What are your tasks?
I was elected along with the rest of the members of the current board of directors at the General Assembly held in December 2016.
My job is to represent the Cangas Wine Association as well as defend and promote our Cangas PDO wine, our viticulture and our native varieties and make this project attractive so that more people can join and grow with them.
How would you define Cangas wine?
The wines of Cangas are Atlantic, more similar to the wines of the north of Portugal, Galicia or south of France that to wines of the Iberian plateau. Due to the characteristics of both the climate and the terroir (mainly slate) the wines are fresh, with natural acidity that makes them very good for aging, they are fruity, medium-grade (between 12-13º) which makes them easy to drink. Being made with unique varieties, these are original, exclusive wines, produced in very limited editions which makes them highly appreciated in expert sectors for their difference, quality and originality.
What makes Cangas wine different? Why is it called heroic viticulture?
The Cangas wine is a product rooted in the Asturian south-west, here we are wine people culturally speaking, wine has always been present in our lives and it rules the calendar.
Our viticulture is recognised with the international seal "Heroic viticulture or mountain viticulture" because our vineyards are settled in small plots with a 30% máximum slope, which makes cultivation difficult and makes the work exclusively manual with the help of very little mechanisation (As it can be a small tractor to load the boxes of grape during the harvest). The grapes are handpicked, all manual, and it’s done in boxes of about 17 kg to preserve the quality of the grapes during transportation until they are processed in the winery.
What grape varieties are grown in the area? Are there local ones? What's the most difficult of having vineyards in a mountainous area such as Cangas?
In our Cangas PDO we have four native grape varieties: Albarín Blanco, Albarín Negro, Verdejo Negro and Carrasquín. We also have other varieties that are also grown in other production areas, mainly Mencía and Blanca Extra.
The difficulty of making wine in our area comes hand in hand with the type of vineyard and winery. The vineyards are small plots, there are no large extensions of vineyards as in other Spanish wine regions. In addition, the work in the vineyard is manual and this makes farming much more expensive, the average price of Cangas grapes per kg is around 1.50€. The size of the wineries is small, we are family run wineries that put extra care on each of our wines, we could say that we elaborate handcrafted wines of limited editions. Not being a large processing area, everything becomes more expensive, transportation, bottles, labels, marketing, etc.
Please tell us about the history of the Cangas wine
The oenological tradition in the southwest region of Asturias dates back to the ninth century. The first Asturian monasteries brought an agricultural evolution that led to the greatest use of available land. Part of that land was devoted to the vines. The liturgical need of these communities was decisive for the development of viticulture.
After the foundation of the monastery of San Juan Bautista de Corias in the eleventh century, the area devoted to vineyard cultivation began to multiply and this trend would continue until the nineteenth century. The vineyards of that time already had many of the unique characteristics that we can still find in today’s ones.
The buoyant mining industry led to a generalised abandonment of the vineyards, to the point that it almost disappeared. About 20 years ago, a recovery process began, planting the seeds of what is now recognised as the Cangas Protected Denomination of Origin.
Are wineries open to the public?
Some of the current wineries in the Cangas PDO offer visits to both the vineyards and the winery where the characteristics of the growing methods as well as the elaboration of the wines are explained.
Some producers have done an amazing work recovering old vineyards. How do you envision the future of Cangas wine?
An enormous effort has been made to recover old vineyards that are currently in production, as well as to improve cultivation techniques and to start new plantations with native varieties. I think the project "Wine from Cangas" is an attractive project, there are young people who are determined to plant and create new wineries. For a depressed area such as the southwest of Asturias, especially after the mining crisis, the Cangas wine can help develop the area, set the population and create jobs, things that unfortunately are very necessary.
Where can you buy Cangas wine outside Asturias?
The wineries export to countries like United States, Japan, and to the rest of Europe, to countries like Holland, England etc.
Within Spain you can find Cangas wine in Madrid, Barcelona and other regions.
Can you recommend any particular bottles of Cangas wine?
As president of the Cangas PDO I recommend each and every one of the bottles produced under our seal, guaranteed with the official back label that informs us and ensures that the wine that is being purchased is a wine made in the production area and with the grape varieties that are grown in the vineyards of heroic viticulture in our area. It is very important to check this back label since it is the only guarantee that the consumer has about the origin of the wine and the grapes from which it is made.