Spanish wines have long graced tables and tantalised palates, but beyond the familiar labels lies a world of surprises waiting to be discovered.
The history of wine is a captivating tale that intertwines with the development of civilizations, the advancement of agriculture, and the evolution of culture. For thousands of years, wine has been more than just a drink; it has been a symbol of celebration, a marker of social status, and a vessel for artistic expression. This brief journey through the annals of wine history takes us from its ancient origins to the modern delights we savour today.
Spain boasts a staggering array of over 400 grape varieties, many of which are indigenous and unique to the country. From the Tempranillo of Rioja to the Albariño of Galicia, the diversity of flavours and aromas reflects the richness of Spain’s terroirs.
In the world of wine, there are stories that go beyond the clinking of glasses and the swirl of ruby-hued elixirs.
We reached out to Lucilda Stewart, who is navigating with flying colours the wine export industry. What sets her apart is her passion, resilience, and a constant appeal for excellence. Inspired by her fascination with better lifestyle choices and cultural heritage, Lucilda established Stewart Hill Walker UK Limited, a venture designed to redefine the wine export landscape.
Specialising in private label wines, Lucinda’s approach is grounded in her commitment to excellence and authenticity. Collaborating with wineries that share her values, she weaves a narrative that connects the vineyard to raising a glass in celebration of life. Each label she creates is a blank canvas upon which the story of the wine’s origin and character is painted, enriching the experience for consumers.
Every label she creates serves as an empty canvas, a space where the tale of the wine’s birthplace and personality comes to life, enhancing the experience for consumers.
A Taste of Triumph: Recognition at the US Wine Ratings 2023
Recently, Stewart Hill Walker UK Limited achieved a remarkable feat – its wines, Orchida Negra and Malbec, were awarded SILVER in the prestigious US Wine Ratings 2023. This recognition speaks to Lucilda’s dedication, the tireless efforts of her team, and the essence of each bottle they craft, as a testament to the quality and uniqueness that define her brand.
El Ruedo: A Symphony of Tradition and Taste, Perfect for Autumn Evenings
Olite, a picture perfect region, nestled within the Ribera Alta of Navarra, lies a treasure that embodies the essence of both tradition and innovation – El Ruedo wine. Crafted with meticulous care using local grapes and traditional methods, this exquisite wine unveils a tapestry of flavours that paint a vivid portrait of the land from which it originates.
“This exquisite, fruity and versatile characterful wine is produced using local and traditional methods with grapes harvested in vineyards situated in Olite in the Ribera Alta of Navarra. An excellent wine at sundown on long autumn evenings is the ideal end of perfect days.” Lucilda tells us.
El Ruedo is not just a wine; it’s a glimpse into the history and culture of Olite. This charming town, with its ancient vineyards and time-honoured winemaking techniques, has lent its character to the creation of a wine that encapsulates the essence of the region. As the sun sets over the picturesque landscapes of Ribera Alta, El Ruedo takes centre stage, offering a sensory journey that harkens back to simpler times.
What sets El Ruedo apart is its exquisite, fruity, and versatile character. With each sip, a symphony of flavours unfolds – notes of ripe berries, a hint of citrus, and a touch of spice dance on the palate. The careful selection of local grape varieties, nurtured by the sun-drenched soils of Olite, infuses the wine with a distinct personality that is uniquely Navarran.
El Ruedo is a tribute to the time-honoured winemaking practices of the region. Every step, from vineyard to bottle, is executed with the precision and expertise passed down through generations. The wine is a testament to the artistry of those who have dedicated their lives to perfecting the craft, ensuring that every bottle carries the legacy of Olite’s winemaking heritage.
As the days grow shorter and the air takes on a hint of crispness, El Ruedo comes into its own. Its rich, characterful profile makes it an ideal companion for long autumn evenings. Whether enjoyed alone as a moment of quiet reflection or shared with loved ones during gatherings, El Ruedo’s velvety embrace enhances the ambiance of any occasion.
In Olite, where vineyards meet tradition and the past converges with the present, El Ruedo is the ideal ending to a perfect day. Its essence captures the romance of the region, allowing you to savour the history, flavours, and warmth of Olite with each sip. As the sun dips below the horizon and stars dot the sky, raising a glass of El Ruedo becomes a toast to life’s simplest pleasures and the magic of autumn evenings.
“Aurora Rosado is made with grapes from the winery’s estate, grown in accordance with the principles of integrated agriculture. The vineyards where our Grenache grapes grow are on average 20 years old and lie on rolling hills in stony, loamy-limestone soil. The 2019 vintage was marked by a dry winter and rainy spring. However the vegetative cycle took a normal course. The summer was dry with occasional storms. The harvest was small due to the yield control techniques carried out in the vineyard and because blossoming was affected in spring. “Despite being a complicated year with the storms in spring, the sanitary state of the grape was well controlled and the physiological and phenolic ripening was optimum and homogeneous.” Lucilda tells us.
The embodiment of Aurora Rosado lies in the exquisite varietal of Grenache. Embracing tradition, this rosé is created through the revered saignée method. Handpicked Grenache grapes, matured to perfection, undergo destemming and a gentle maceration process within stainless steel tanks, allowing for the gentle extraction of the characteristic cherry hue and primary aromas.
Subsequently, it must undergo a careful bleeding, while the alcoholic fermentation unfolds over 20 days within a stainless steel vessel, a tranquil environment sustaining a temperature of 16°C to preserve the pristine freshness of aromatics. Once fermentation reaches its crescendo, the wine is transitioned and left to mature on its fine lees for an entire month within an inert container, facilitating an extratextural mouthfeel that enhances its allure. As a finishing touch, the wine’s vibrant radiance invites a clarification and filtration process prior to bottling.“
“Orchida Negra (Crianza) is made with grapes from the winery’s own estate, cultivated following integrated farming methods. The vineyards are on average 20 years old and lie on rolling slopes with sandy, silty, rocky soil. The 2019 harvest in Navarra offered lower yields than the previous year. After a complicated year with a dry winter and a cold and stormy spring, the summer was warm and enjoyed low rainfall, enabling complete and homogenous ripening. The grapes boasted an impeccable sanitary condition, awarding the production of wines with great possibilities.”
“Jaleo Roble is made with grapes from the winery’s own estate, cultivated following integrated farming methods and mainly using organic farming practices. The vineyards are on average 20 years old and grow on rolling slopes with sandy, silty, rocky soil. Due to a delay in the vegetative cycle, the 2018 harvest was moderate in amount compared to the previous vintage. After a complicated year with a cold and rainy winter and a stormy spring, the summer was warm and enjoyed low rainfall, leading to complete and homogenous ripening.”
Surprising things about Spanish wine
As we are chilling out with Lucilda, we are learning about Spanish wine- a treasure trove of surprises, from its diverse grape varieties to its innovative winemaking techniques. When exploring the heritage of Spain’s wine regions, you’re not just savouring a drink – you’re connecting with the history, culture, and craftsmanship that make Spanish wines truly exceptional.
From ancient traditions to hidden gems, here are 8 surprising things about Spanish wine that will take your wine appreciation to a new level.
Earthy Amphorae Wines: While oak barrels are commonly associated with ageing wine, Spain has a historic tradition of using clay amphorae. This ancient technique, revived by modern winemakers, imparts distinct earthy notes and a unique character to the wines.
High Altitude Vines: Some of Spain’s vineyards are located at breathtaking altitudes, reaching up to 3,000 metres. These high-altitude vineyards yield grapes with intense flavours due to the extreme temperature variations and unique sunlight exposure.
Rioja is divided into three sub-regions: Rioja Alta, Rioja Alavesa, and Rioja Baja. Each has its own unique climate, soil composition, and grape-growing conditions, contributing to the diversity of Rioja wines.
When you think of Rioja, red wines likely come to mind, but the region also produces exquisite white wines. Made from the Viura grape, Rioja whites offer a refreshing alternative with notes of citrus and floral aromas.
Rioja is synonymous with red wines, it also produces exceptional white wines. The white grape variety Viura dominates the white wine landscape, offering refreshing notes of citrus and floral aromas that are perfect for warm weather sipping.
Rioja is celebrated for its age-worthy red wines. Did you know that some bodegas hold back certain vintages for extended ageing? These “Reserva” and “Gran Reserva” wines spend even more time maturing in oak barrels and bottles, resulting in complex flavours that evolve beautifully over time. While traditional oak ageing is common in Rioja, innovative winemakers are experimenting with new techniques, such as using concrete tanks for fermentation. This modern approach adds a fresh twist to the region’s winemaking tradition.
Historic Wine Towns: The towns of Haro and Logroño are wine hubs in Rioja, hosting some of the region’s most prestigious wineries. Haro is particularly famous for its annual wine festival, known as the “Battle of Wine,” where participants joyously drench each other in red wine.
Vineyard Art: The Marqués de Riscal winery in Rioja is a true architectural marvel. Designed by Frank Gehry, the hotel features stunning titanium panels that shimmer in the sunlight, making it a must-visit for both wine and art enthusiasts.
Lauded by Royalty: Rioja’s wines have graced the tables of royalty. The Spanish monarchy has historically shown a preference for Rioja wines, cementing their reputation as wines of distinction.
Contemporary Approaches: Young winemakers in Rioja are embracing modern practices and advocating for sustainable viticulture. Some are experimenting with organic and biodynamic farming methods to produce wines that reflect the essence of the region while honouring environmental values.
Sherry’s Mysterious Solera System: Sherry, a fortified wine from the region of Jerez, is aged using the unique solera system. This method involves blending wines of different ages, creating a harmonious and consistent flavour profile that’s been perfected over centuries.
Wine of Kings: Prized Priorat: The region of Priorat is known for producing some of Spain’s most prestigious and sought-after wines. The region’s distinct llicorella soil, a mixture of slate and quartz, imparts a mineral-rich character to the wines, making them truly regal.
From its humble beginnings in ancient civilizations to its current status as a global phenomenon, Spanish wine’s journey has been one of cultural significance, scientific exploration, and sensory delight. Its ability to evolve with the times while maintaining its ties to tradition is a testament to its enduring allure. As we raise our glasses to toast life’s moments – whether celebratory, reflective, or social – we want to toast to remarkable entrepreneurs like Lucilda who keep the red wine flowing in our glasses, a timeless ritual that connects us to the rich heritage of human history.
Lucilda Stewart: Crafting a Legacy in Wine Export
The youngest of eight children, Jamaican born Lucilda carries within her the threads of Ashanti, Scottish, Spanish and Indian lineage. Lucida’s early experiences laid the foundation for a life driven by curiosity and the desire to create meaningful connections.
Emigrating to the UK as part of the Windrush Generation, Lucilda’s experiences as a child of immigrants gave her a unique perspective on life. Her family’s encounter with the challenges and promises of post-war Britain fuelled her determination to excel and led her to explore diverse career paths.
Starting her career in banking and working with American Express Banking Division in Frankfurt, Germany, Lucilda’s thirst for learning soon beckoned her towards new horizons. Returning to the UK, she obtained a Master’s in Law from UCL. Her passion for justice and empowerment guided her towards pioneering the Direct Public Access to Barristers Scheme, empowering litigants to navigate the legal system.
While Lucilda’s legal journey was marked by pioneering initiatives, it was her transition to the world of wine that truly showcased her visionary spirit. What began as a hobby blossomed into the creation of Stewart Hill Walker UK Limited. Through dedication and meticulous research, she carved a unique niche in the market. Her decision to develop private label wines, after a visit to Rioja, Spain, underscores her commitment to quality and innovation.
Today, as the founder of Stewart Hill Walker UK Limited, Lucilda’s vision has borne fruit. Her wines, Orchida Negra from Spain and Malbec from Argentina, have earned prestigious recognition, winning SILVER in the US Wine Ratings 2023. This achievement stands as a testament to Lucilda’s unyielding dedication and the dynamic team she has cultivated.
In Lucilda’s remarkable journey – from challenging the status quo to crafting exquisite wines – she is the epitome of perseverance, innovation, and passion. Her story is one of breaking barriers, championing change, and leaving an indelible mark as an entrepreneur, advocate, and trailblazer. Lucilda’s legacy is an inspiration to those who dare to dream and exceed expectations.
In Lucilda’s story, we find the essence of an entrepreneur who defies boundaries, a visionary who crafts experiences beyond the ordinary, and a woman who believes in the power of excellence. With a glass raised to Lucilda’s journey, we hope we inspire you to raise your own – a symbol of our shared stories, the flavours of life, and the connections that bind us all.
Looking ahead, Lucilda envisions expanding Stewart Hill Walker UK Limited’s portfolio and exploring new horizons. With a focus on innovative offerings and meaningful partnerships, she seeks to leave an indelible mark on the wine export landscape. Just as her life’s journey is a tapestry of cultures and experiences, so too are her wines – vessels of culture and connection that bridge continents and generations.
CONTACT STEWART HILL UK : https://www.stewarthilluk.com/
All products are shipped on palettes in thermostat controlled reefers. Minimum quantities apply.