Some of ye might be thinking about starting their own vineyard, putting your hands in the bucket to produce your own wines from your own grapes! If starting from the scratch scares you, we've met a guy who did just that! Thyge Benned Jensen started Bodega Frontio in the DO Arribes (Spain) a couple of years ago, we asked him a few questions on how he made his career change and why.
MEET THE MAKER: You are Thyge (pronounce “Ti-ewe”), locally known as the “Crazy Dane”, you arrived from your native Denmark a couple of years ago, with practically no experience in winemaking, and decided to start your own Bodega. We’ve tried your wines and liked them, and since it’s a lot of people’s dream to do this job, can you tell us a bit more about yourself and why you ended up in the Arribes del Duero?
My educational background is as an economist (m. sc. ) and I worked around 10 years within the energy industry (worked as a natural gas trader) and lived in Copenhagen. However, I more and more realized that I didn’t enjoy office life and missed working outside.
As I have always had a keen interest in wine I started exploring that area more and more
by visiting wineries in Italy, France and Spain. During all these visits I realized that there are several vignerons which have had a different career prior to it. That was the inspiration for establishing my winery as I then could combine my work with my interest. So I sold my apartment and quit my job.
From the beginning I was committed to Spain as the place to settle down and during my research I realized there are many hidden gems of small, old and nearly none-known wine regions in Spain. A visit to Sierra de Gredos led to a visit to Fermoselle and the beauty of the nature surrounding it, the old vineyards, the terroir and the historic village made my decision.
THE PROJECT: You launched Bodega Frontio in 2016 (which was your first vintage), can you tell us a bit more about the styles of wines you produce? You had an attempt at rosé and sparkling too, also a fantastic orange wine, how do you choose the styles of wine that will remain and why?
I launched Bodega Frontio in the spring of 2016 and then 2016 was also my first vintage. I’m attempting to make the wines in the same style as I like wine; soft, fruity and complex. However, as I have many different grape varieties I also have different wines - but on the other hand I also like to blend the varieties if that makes a better wine.
What defines the wines is the quality of the grapes – it might sound like a cliché but it’s true! You can make bad wine with good grapes – but you can’t make good wine with bad grapes!
What makes the decision for a wine to remain in the portfolio is if I like it or not. As I have only made two vintages, I'm still trying out various ways of vinifications and there shall be errors – otherwise I haven’t tested it to the limit.
THE ADVICE: A lot of times, when we start something completely new, like you did in wine, we look back and think “Oh god, if only I had done it this way”… Would you have some advice for those who might launch their very own bodega in the future?
You really need to be a hands-on type and to be a generalist because being a vigneron is much, much more than just working in the vineyards and in the cellar.
THE DREAM: Where do you dream to see your wines in the future, what types of wines are you dreaming to produce?
The dream is to reach one day where I have helped getting the local grape variety Juan Garcia* to be a very well-known one due to my wines. I am dreaming of producing fruity and gentle wines which you can drink again and again.
*Max: Juan Garcia is the main grape variety used within the DO Arribes, along with other varietals such Rufete, Brunal, Tinta de Madrid...
YOUR FAVOURITE WINE: Apart from your own wine, which would be your favourite wine in the world or a source of inspiration?
I don’t have one favourite wine as such since I don’t think there is one single wine fitting for every purpose. My inspiration are producers being able to produce wines which are soft, complex and where you can easily drink more than one bottle yourself.
I hope you guys can find a source of inspiration in Thyge's words, or at least the answer to some questions you might be having.
If you want to taste Thyge's wines, some of his labels on the market would be Follaco, Bébeme, Deldoma or Corneo. He can also be contacted through Facebook on the Bodega Frontio's page.