“Grateful that you exist!”*
“We wanted wines at a normal price,” says Juhan-Markus Laats, one of the founders of Veiniekspress. “For wines that are a little bit finer, you always need to pay a fortune.”
In the late autumn of 2020, when the corona was in full swing, the Estonian wine community was given a new lease of life – Veiniekspress was born. “The idea is to order a larger quantity of wines from good wineries together. We get to taste exciting flavors, regions and often superlative wines from small winemakers, and most importantly – at a very reasonable price,” says Juhan-Markus Laats.
In Estonia, it was possible to buy champagne for less than €20 at the beginning of June. “We simply couldn’t get that price, but after repeated discussions we got the producer to agree and everyone had the opportunity to buy exceptional champagne at a reasonable price,” says Laats.
How to recognize a good winery?
“Don’t all winemakers try to decorate themselves as lavishly as possible. But once you’ve been around the wine world for a while, you develop a certain flair,” he says. “Of course, the best thing is to go from winery to winery and talk to the winemaker – their skills and knowledge are the foundation of everything. But a bumbling winemaker can negate any ideal conditions.”
The wine express usually visits wine regions itself, but this winter it went on its first trip to Rioja, co-organised by the Estonian Chamber of Commerce and Industry. “We are already familiar with Rioja, but an organised trip like this is easier – you don’t have to organise everything yourself.” says Juhan-Markus. “The Chamber and the EEN’s Spanish representatives were looking for great operators from above and below the ground, and we had already made some selections ourselves. We came up with an impressive line-up of wineries to get to know.” Unfortunately, many of the superlatives had to be ruled out in the end – however, the number of wineries is limited for each order to Estonia.
A seventh sense comes with experience
In the end, four wineries from Rioja brought their best: wines made from berries picked from Berta Valgañon’s 120-year-old vines, for example, as well as a unique Rioja sparkling wine. “When you see that the winemaker is the salt of the Rioja earth, who knows with his seventh sense when it’s the right time to pick the berries or when the wine has finished maturing, you somehow can’t resist these wines. Berta, for example, still makes wines from grape varieties that are no longer allowed to be planted in Rioja. She has them left over from her grandfather’s time, and she can make wine from them,” says Laats.
“Our experience has shown that the chamber’s tours are very good, well organised and if you let them know in advance what you are going to look for, they are very helpful in finding the right contacts,” concludes Laats.
GOOD TO KNOW
On 22-23 February, Veiniekspress took part in the “Rioja Wine Trade Mission 2023”, organised by the Spanish partner of the Enterprise Europe Network. The Estonian Chamber of Commerce and Industry is the network’s representative in Estonia. The network has members in 66 countries around the world and through the network we provide background information, advice and partner search services to entrepreneurs.
One of the founders of Veiniekspress
*Journalist and wine fan commenting to Veiniekspress after ordering Rioja.