Two honoured for outstanding contribution to Spanish wine

19th March, 2014 by Patrick Schmitt

Two personalities were honoured last night for their “outstanding contribution to Spanish wine” at an annual dinner for the Gran Orden de Caballeros del Vino.

Gran Orden Caballeros Dinner 2014

José Velo-Rego and María José López de Heredia were welcomed into the Gran Orden at The Dorchester Hotel last night

During a dinner held at The Dorchester hotel in London, head of Wines from Spain, Marie-José Sevilla, revealed the names of two people who have been elected caballeros when addressing a room packed with keen supporters of Spanish wine and current members of the order.

At this, the 30th investiture dinner, the organisation warmly welcomed María José López de Heredia from Rioja’s Bodegas López de Heredia Viña Tondonia and José Velo-Rego from Spanish wine and food importer and distributor in the UK, C&D Wines.

Established in 1984, the Gran Orden recognises those who have “acted over and above the call of duty” in their promotion of Spanish wines, and presents them with a red and yellow robe and distinctive hat, which members of the society wear at the annual dinner in London.

María José López de Heredia was born in Rioja in 1968 and graduated with a law degree from Deusto University in Bilbao in 1991, before gaining a Masters in Viticulture and Oenology in 1993 and joining her family firm.

Once described as “her family’s charismatic ambassador to the world” María José has maintained the traditional values of winemaking instigated by her great grandfather back in 1877, while also bringing a modern touch to the business by, for example, enlisting architect Zaha Hadid to design a shop at the winery (pictured below).

Zaha Hadid wine shop

Zaha Hadid’s wine boutique at Bodegas López de Heredia

José Velo-Rego first moved from Spain to come and live in England in 1967, where he joined the Guild of Sommeliers, before moving into the world of wine importing.

In 1994 he joined Spanish wine company C&D Wines, where, this year, he has spent 20 years promoting Spanish wines to the London on- and off-trade.

With the two new recruits, the Gran Orden now comprises 57 members from both Spain and the UK.

However, current chairman of the organisation, Waitrose wine buyer and Spanish wine enthusiast Nick Room, reminded attendees of the dinner that the Gran Orden had also sadly lost two members in the past 12 months, following the death of Nicholas Burridge from Burridge Wines and Mauricio González-Gordon Diéz from González Byass, whose life you can read more about here.

Wines served during the course of this year’s investiture dinner included Juvé y Camps Cinta Púrpura Brut Reserva 2010, Pazo de Señoráns Selección de Añada 2006 and Valserrano Reserva 2007.

Last year Rueda producer Antonio Sanz along with restaurateur brothers Sam and Eddie Hart were welcomed into the organisation.

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