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Rioja grapples with how to define its best wines

19 June
2017-06-19 00:00:00
2017-06-19 00:00:00

Rioja grapples with how to define its best wines

The wine was an extraordinary pleasure, a mellow red with a texture somewherebetween silk and velvet that didn’t so much invite as demand a next sip.

The flavors were both sweet and tart, more cranberry than raspberry and fresh. Thewine extended well into the complex territory of tobacco, smoke and leather, with atouch of vanilla from its long rest in old American oak vats. There was polish to thewine, the sort of sheen that comes only from the friction of age sanding away the roughedges of rambunctious youth.

This was a 1994 Viña Tondonia Rioja Gran Reserva from R. López de Heredia, a Riojaproducer beloved not only for its steadfast adherence to the oldest traditions andtechniques of the region, but also for the rigorous natural farming of its vineyards and itsimpeccable standards of quality.

Other Rioja producers make excellent gran reservas, like Muga, Faustino, CVNE, LaRioja Alta, Remelluri, Hermanos Peciña and Marqués de Murrieta. None are as devotedas López de Heredia to the notion that gran reservas ought to be aged by the wineryuntil they are ready to drink.
The rules governing gran reservas require that the wines be aged at least two years inbarrels and three years in bottles — five years in all — before they can be released.Most good producers of gran reservas go beyond the minimum.

The current release of Muga’s gran reserva, Prado Enea, is 2009, for example.Murrieta’s current gran reserva, Castillo Ygay, is 2007, while La Rioja Alta’s 904 is 2007 and its 890 is 2004. By contrast, the youngest gran reserva red from López de Herediais 1995.

Defining a wine by aging seems out of step with the times. With the ascendance ofBurgundy, with its emphasis on place and terroir over age, more regions have redefinedthemselves in Burgundian terms.

Over the last 30 years, there has been a rise in single-vineyard Barolos, even as a fewardent traditionalists like Bartolo Mascarello insist on the primacy of wines blended fromdifferent communes. Similarly, in Champagne, where blending has been portrayed andmarketed as an art form, more producers emphasize the terroir and the vineyard.

Read more here.

RiojaWine Calle Estambrera, 52
2017-06-19 00:00:00
Calle Estambrera, 52 26006 LOGROÑO (La Rioja). ESPAÑA.
(34)941 500 400 (34)941 500 664 info(at)