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PR from Pompaelo Wines

A very recent unsolicited email I received touted the wonders of the 2005 Viñas de Amburza from Emilio Valerio in Navarra, a biodynamic wine, allegedly the first such wine from the region. The email came from somebody called Björn Steinemann of Pompaelo Wines:

We are proud to introduce the first biodynamic wine from Navarra

Let us surprise you by a different taste that will take you back to the roots of winemaking Emilio Valerio is a family company and a group of people engaged in an agriculture project to produce biodynamic wines and oils in the hills south of historic Montejurra. We grow over 50 small plots of vineyards around the township Dicastillo in Tierra Estella, in Central Navarra region in northern Spain. Conserving Biodiversity and nature unique for each of our valleys. We Understand wine as a cultural product intrinsically linked to people and land. Viñas de Amburza 2005 truly represents a loyal reflection of a vintage, a terroir and a way of understanding agriculture. This wine is a rich blend of Garnacha, Graciano, Cabernet S. and Merlot. made according to the principles of byodinamic viticulture including hand harvesting and a respectful vinification. The wine was aged for 11 month in french oak barrels. For sampels, logistic and further informations please contact:

Pompaelo Wines
Office Düsseldorf
Björn Steinemann

I receive a lot of unsolicited requests to look at samples, but this one piqued my interest, principally because of my findings when I attended the UK Wines of Navarra tasting last year. There were, in short, a lot of disappointing wines there, and it was a disheartening introduction to the region. As I wrote at the time, the whites “tended to lack impact, many displaying soft, diffuse, perfumed, feminine aromas”, the rosados and sweet wines were “uninspiring”. The reds, from the likes of Chivite, Ochoa, Inurrieta, Camilo Montecristo, in many cases showed “a lack of freshness to the fruit profile, with many of the wines displaying a rather muted fruit character very often with furry, feral, animalistic scents alongside”. It was an honest write-up.

Secondly, the project itself sounds interesting. Fifty small biodynamic plots, producing wine and oils? It sounds rather like Thierry Puzelat’s (profile coming soon) work in the Loire rescuing backyard plots of vines from destruction when their owners become too old or ill to continue tending them. He maintains these micro-plots of often indigenous varieties, 7 hectares in all, important parts of the Loire’s viticultural heritage, and from them he produces a not-for-profit cuvée.

So here perhaps was a wine to buck the trend perhaps, from a small producer, perhaps a trail-blazing one in view of their novel (for the region) biodynamic stance. Yes, I was interested. My reply:


Thanks for your message. If you wish to send a sample please do so:
(address included)

Chris Kissack

Simple enough. Here’s the reply though – remember that this was an unsolicited PR email offering an opportunity to taste and learn more about this wine:

dear chris,

we decided not to send sampels, cause we still are not represented at the uk market.
i furthermore have the impression that you are not abel to value conumer wines from non- known or smaller companies (ochoa- who needs that? chivite- noone is interested in another tasting note- they are covered with metro group! inurrieta- they are very good, but sold at the next kiosk…cvne- very interesting up to the year 1998…montecristo- take a look at their reputation in navarra…)

if you are interested in something unique you can take a closer look at out own projects- we are just three friends and have worked for the “big” ones in navarra and other regions in spain&argentina:

kind regards,


Umm…isn’t that what I was trying to do – to “take a closer look” at their project – by taking up their offer of a sample? It seems he has changed his mind. I’m not sure why, as although Björn clearly doesn’t rate the wineries that attended the UK Wines of Navarra tasting, my write-up was hardly glowing! Has he noted the producers, but not read the reviews? Or does he think the wine will be tarred with the same brush. Surely not – the title of his original email boasted 91 points from José Peñín, a respected critic of Iberian wine, and Björn seems pretty confident. But what a waste of my time! I’m not impressed:

What a bizarre response.

You are withdrawing the unsolicited offer of a sample to taste this wine because you don’t rate the producers I have met at the UK Wines of Navarra tasting last year, and you have only decided that after I expressed interest in your wine? Do I understand that correctly? I thought you wanted to “surprise you by a different taste”?

Perhaps you should have taken a closer look at my site before sending out your spam.

Best regards

Chris Kissack

And now Björn explains his reasoning:

dear chris,

sorry for any inconvenience- my fault.

i don´t see any advantage to get rated at your website, for ratings in uk we have natasha huges, rebecca gibb, susan hulme david lindsay and others.
you are not on the buyer`s side, so we won`t spent money for nothing.
i deleated you from our list.

kind regards,


So there we have it. I am not on the buyer’s side apparently, as judged by Björn in Düsseldorf, I think because I tasted wines that don’t meet with his approval at an official Navarra tasting in Edinburgh in November 2008 (the tasting toured, also visiting Manchester and London). And perhaps because Björn no longer rates CVNE very highly. So I am not suitable to review his wine, although he only realised that after he asked me if I would like to taste it. It beggars belief.

So, I am sorry to all, but there will be no forthcoming review of the wines of Emilio Valerio, and I will have to return to my regular work of reviewing big-brand wines such as Pierre Jacques Druet’s Rosé (as mentioned in yesterday’s post), La Ferme de la Sansonnière’s Rosé d’un Jour and others. For more esoteric wines such as those under the Emilio Valerio label, readers must look to the aforementioned writers for suitably independent opinion.

Any comments?

10 Responses to “PR from Pompaelo Wines”

  1. This is nothing more than a demonstration of the shortcomings of the written word. Something fundamental in the spirit of your initial note was lost “in translation”, nothing more. I can guarantee that if you had spoken to these people maybe first, or discussed the topic with them face-to-face, then they would have been “on your wavelength”. Not your fault. Not theirs. Just the limitation of the written word.

  2. Don’t worry Chris I still plan to send you some wine one day. I will be aware now to adopt a slightly different approach.

    He is German of course.

  3. Stephen,

    Thanks for your feedback, although I’m not sure I can agree. What nuance in my simple reply was responsible for the response I received?

    You are spot on with the difficulties that come with the written word though – many a disagreement on internet wine forums stems from the misunderstandings that arise when we can’t take advantage of information from body language, mannerisms and tone of voice.

  4. Kevin

    Thanks for your reply. But there’s no need for an “approach”. Here’s how it could go:

    Merchant: I want to send you a sample.
    Me: OK, here’s the address, send away.
    Merchant: OK. I have sent it today.

    Here’s what happened in this example:

    Merchant: I want to send you a sample.
    Me: OK, here’s the address, send away.
    Merchant: I’ve changed my mind, you’re not on the consumer’s side, I don’t like the opinions you have on wines and I don’t like the wines or producers you review. Bye.

  5. How bizarre!

  6. That is weird, although not surprising. The wine industry seems to have some of the worst PR folks in the business.

  7. It is a rather bizarre way to promote your wine, I agree. But sometimes you get some bizarre questions the other way around, as well. When I worked for a European importer of quality wines, I was in the position to offer New Zealand Savvy to a French wholesaler, a big supplier of wine to – amongst others – supermarket chain Leclerc. A fine customer, if you can get the business.

    However, this particular wholesaler also distributed cigarettes, but NOT the brand Marlboro. The wines came from the Marlborough region, which was proudly displayed on the label. Now my wholesaler friend asked me politely but resolutely to remove the Marlborough appellation, because he felt he would promote the cigarette brand of his competitor when distributing the wines with the name Marlborough on the label…

    Needless to say the deal was off.

  8. Ralph,

    I give in – in the weirdness stakes, your experience takes the prize!

  9. I am writing from Navarra,

    this is Emilio Valerio,

    I was amazed when a friend of mine showed me this article in this bloq.

    I am writing to tell the reason they couldn´t send a sample.

    The reason is they are completly unauthorized to send samples or sell our wine.

    They are not working with our wines, so It was very unpleasant to find this on the internet.

  10. Hi Emilio,

    Thanks for your contribution to this discussion – I’m sorry if the activities of this company in Germany have thrown any bad light on your name. I think I can be quite clear – as per the title of my post – that the issue here was with the behaviour exhibited by Pompaelo Wines, not Emilio Valerio.

    Do you think this company ever had any intention of sending samples to anybody? Or was there something more malicious going on? Have I unwittingly taken part in some sort of smear campaign?