by Guest Contributor Pablo Echenique


To be honest, not very long ago when I heard anyone saying that a wine was “elegant” I could not help laughing. To me, such an adjective had always made me think about Coco Chanel, Armani, the London shirt-makers, Sinatra and the Prince of Wales and, of course, about my dad, but never about wine.

Tinto Arzuaga changed my mind. I first had it as the perfect companion to a “lechazo” (roasted baby lamb) in Lerma’s relatively new Ojeda restaurant (the Burgos temple now has a branch in the ducal town).

Arzuaga is the short name for the wines created by “Bodegas Arzuaga-Navarro”, owned by Florentino Arzuaga that is, in fact, the father of Spanish fashion star designer Amaya Arzuaga. According to their web site, their cellar is quite young (as young as born in the early nineties). This is hard to believe, given the great quality of its wines.

Tinto Arzuaga crianza 2003 (I just can imagine what the “reserva” and the “gran reserva” have to offer) has a beautiful dark cherry colour. Wild berries are definitely there; also a pleasant smoked wood remembrance. It is definitely elegant. When you drink it, I would not say like my friend José Areilza that “one feels like driving an old Jaguar in a cold winter morning through the hills of Álava”; but perhaps it is like “feeling a silk curtain going down your throat” or even like “listening to the prelude of “Tristan und Isolde” coming out of an old and cherished gramophone”.

Now, every time that I pass by Amaya’s trendy fashion store in Madrid, I immediately can smell those berries and I think about the Duero, a river that crosses old Castille and dies in the north of Portugal, that is becoming, more than ever, a great reference for wine lovers.