In Aragon, a well-known region in the NE of Spain, it’s uncommon to find a winery with two wins and the name of a saint as its logo.
Legend says that Saint Frontonio was beheaded on the banks of the Ebro river, but his head sailed upriver instead of downstream. This is where Frontonio winery gets its name. According to Aiyana Vilimek, Key Account Manager, “We also like to do things against the tide, constantly innovating”.
As a native of Aragon, I gravitate very frequently towards fruity wines in general and towards Grenache in particular. That is why I decided to try two of the star wines of this winery: Telescopico Carignan 2017 and Supersonico 2018. They surprised me even more than I expected because they had very unusual notes, more earthy and risky than usual. I decided to contact them to understand something more about their history and work philosophy.
Bodegas Frontonio is located in the small town of Alpartir, one hour away from Zaragoza. Behind this adventure, we discovered Fernando Mora, an engineer who always dreamed of being a winemaker and who started making wine in the bathtub at his home and finally pursued his dream in 2013. He continued his training until he achieved the title of Master of Wine in 2017. This is a select club to which only 416 professionals worldwide belong, seven of them living in Spain. Obtaining this title opened many doors for him to make himself known among winemakers and give impetus to his new projects.
“Here in the winery, we do the work in the fields and harvest in a very traditional way and very different from how things are done today,” explains Aiyana. “The grapes are hand-harvested and then trodden, and we till with horses”.
Frontonio winery is aware of the close bond between the natural environment and the identity of a bottle of wine. For this reason, they have made this determined commitment to a type of organic and sustainable viticulture, maintaining the native vegetation and working with some vineyards in poly-cultivation. They also maintain green corridors for animals to achieve a perfect balance between biodiversity and agriculture.
Elaboration in the winery
Once the grapes are harvested, they are worked by gravity in a three-story cellar, two of them being underground in old caves that maintain constant humidity and temperature. The wines are fermented in crates and used wood barrels so that the wood does not add too much character to the final product and the wine does not lose its vibrancy and character.
The hallmarks of Frontonio winery wines are their high acidity to achieve greater liveliness and freshness, with the predominance of fruit and berry notes so characteristic of Grenache, the original Aragon grape. “I would say they even have some earthy and aromatic herbs notes as well,” says its sales director.
“I would say our wines even have some earthy and aromatic herbs notes as wellAiyana Vilimek, Key Accounts Manager
When I asked her to recommend three wines for this summer, Aiyana decided on a white wine and two reds: “First of all, I would choose a Frontonio Blanco 2018, made with white Grenache and Macabeo from our vineyards in La Loma and Los Santos. It has been fermented for 12 months in used wood to keep that most vivid part of the fruity note,” she explains. “And I would also choose two reds, the Supersonico and the Telescopico. The Supersonico 2018 has a touch of raspberry that makes it a very special wine. It is made at an altitude of more than 1030 meters with Grenache and some Macabeo in vineyards that are more than 80 years old. These characteristics give it high acidity and perfect freshness,” she adds.
But Aiyana loves especially Telescopico 2018. “In the 2017 vintage there were two reds made with Grenache and Carignan grapes. The new one is a fusion of both and in fact, we launched it just a few weeks ago. It is an organic and very special wine, and in my opinion, it is going to improve over the years and become a spectacular wine, since we have seen that this has happened with previous vintages”.
When I ask her if a good product or good marketing is more important to stand out in the competitive world of wine, Aiyana has no doubt: “A good product. Marketing is essential to make yourself known. Press articles or Parker scores are very good for us, but you do not keep a customer if that wine disappoints him. For us, loyalty to our product is essential,” she says.
It is essential for the winery to care for and maintain this loyal audience, who can be made from professionals or other winemakers, but also from people without specific training that have been enchanted by the fascinating world of wine. For this reason, Fernando Mora, Frontonio’s alma mater, creates tutorials on Instagram and a quarterly wine club in which something different is done in each box, with guest wineries and a wine made especially for that occasion in the winery. They know excellence is not achieved by isolating themselves and seeing other wineries as competition, but by collaborating and learning from them. This attitude is reflected in their amazing and innovative wines.