Visiting Ramón Saavedra of Bodega Cauzón
The wines of Bodega Cauzón were among the first natural wines we sold when we first opened Highbury Library at the end of 2015. They were always so exciting as they truly reflected the hot, dry and wild landscape from which they come. I was lucky enough to first visit Ramon at the beginning of 2018 and whilst planning a recent trip to Granada, I thought the time was right for another catch up.
My friend Alba who owns and runs the Al Sur De Granada wine shop offered to set up the visit and she was horrified when I suggested 3pm as a time to meet up with Ramon. "3pm is a very strange time to arrive to a place, sorry" she responded. "Especially in the south, it's almost rude to arrive at that hour". So after her helpful correction, 5pm was agreed.
(The sandy town of Graena)
Ramon lives in the tiny village of Graena on the northern side of the Sierra Nevada, about a 45 minute drive from the city of Granada. The landscape here is a basically an orange, sandy desert. I meet him at his bodega and we sample some of the latest wines that have been in tank for around a month. We then go into a large cellar where pallets of wine wait to be exported to various markets. Down here we try some older bottles. It's great to see how far his wines have come over the years. They still have that undeniable character of Andalusia but now with more precision and balance.
(Tasting wine at the Bodega)
Ramon worked as a chef in Catalunya before deciding to return to the village of Graena where he was born. His family cultivated vines here for many generations and he remembers how comforting it felt to come home and work this land. He helped out at the iconic Barranco Oscuro in the Alpujarra on the other side of the Sierra Nevada and was inspired by the revolutionary winemaker there, Manuel Valenzuela. As I listen to his stories and taste more wine, I realise I'm running out of time to check into my strange spa hotel nearby. I suggest we meet up later in the evening and Ramon insists we go out for dinner.
(Late afternoon in Graena)
A couple of hours later I head back to Ramon's and we jump in his car to go and take a look at the vines. As we drive slowly towards the vineyard through the red rocks that remind me of West Texas, he explains that the name Cauzón means something along the lines of "land of sand" in Arabic which reflects the long history of Moorish rule in this part of Spain. His neatly arranged vines sit in a single 6 hectare plot with a solar powered well in the middle of the vineyard. We have come at the perfect time as the sun is setting and projecting a golden glow across the vines.
(The vineyards of Bodega Cauzón)
Ramon has a wide range of both international and local grape varieties. Some he decides to make single varietal wines with whilst others are blends. He only produces one white wine, Cauzón Blanco 2022, which is a field blend of Chardonnay, Macabeo, Viognier, Grenache Blanc and Sauvignon Blanc. It is always one of his most popular cuvées with a great balance of fruit concentration and acidity. My current favourite of his red wines is Lozano 2021 made from Merlot grapes. Full bodied but with soft tannin and again, that fresh acidity.
After leaving the vineyard, we make our way to the nearby town of Guadix to a restaurant called Vinoteca El Refugio which is housed in an old bomb shelter from the days of the civil war. We are sat next to a mural of a map of the local area that shows where each winemaker is situated. Ramon enthusiastically talks me through each one. He is treated like a local celebrity here which is great to see. They have dozens of wine availble by the glass (all by Coravin) including a couple of Ramon's. It's inspiring to see how he has put himself on the map here in the most unlikely of conditions.
If you ever want to taste a little slice of this special part of Andalusia, you only have to reach for one of Ramon's bottles!