Tag Archives: Rioja

Bibendum Degustacion de Vinos – 3/06/2013

Bibendum as I have said many times, are one of the best importers of wine in Australia. For the first time they hosted a tasting of their entire range of Spanish producers, and some were gracious enough to fly all the way to Australia for the event. Here is a very long list of wines I tasted.

Colet-Navazos Cava Extra Brut 2009
Nice gun flint volcanic notes. Clean pure fresh light, classic but fairly simple and safe.

Navazos I Think Manzanilla
Slightly rich and creamy, toasty and crunchy texture.

Argueso Manzanilla
Pure fresh light, clean and brisk, friendly and appealing.

Argueso Las Medallas Manzanilla
A bit deeper and richer, bolder but still nice and salty, sweeter fruit character.

San Leon Manzanilla
Zingy zesty, so fresh, not what you think of manzanilla.

Angel Rodriguez Martinsancho Verdejo 2011
Fig skin and herb notes. Exquisitely balanced, light but not thin.

Val de Sil Montenovo Blanco 2012
Mid-palate texture saltiness. Bright fruit-driven but savoury.

Val de Sil Godello 2011
Quiet. Bright and fresh, fruit-forward, nice and textural.

Val de Sil Pezas da Portella Godello 2010
Salty volcanic oily nose. Much more elegant and restrained.

Horacio Calvente Pago La Guindalera Blanco 2010
Classic but restrained and dry, fresh musky floral elements.

Mengoba Brezo Blanco 2011
Tight and sharp, very precise, really good but not offering a lot.

Mengoba Blanco Godello Y Dona Blanco Sobre Lias 2010
Nicely developed, slightly wilder and more mineral.

Mengoba Brezo Tinto 2011
Bright juicy floral notes, fresh and juicy but tight and straight.

Mengoba Flor de Brezo 2010
Tighter spicier and leaner, much more savoury.

Mengoba Mencia de Espanillo 2009
Intense tight concentrated, juicy and fairly soft but intense.

Mengoba Mencia de Espanillo 2010
Amazing precision and integration, LENGTH.

Mengoba Estaladina 2010
A little dirtier and wilder, dark and intense.

Domino do Bibei Lapola Blanco 2010
Tight juicy round full friendly.

Domino do Bibei Lapena Blanco 2010
Wilder funkier basalt, intense super godello up to 11.

Domino do Bibei Lalama 2009
Soft juicy full, tight.

Domino do Bibei Lacima 2008
Wild but a little short, lacking something.

Adega Algueira Brandon Blanco 2012
Herbal green fig, very fresh and food friendly.

Adega Algueira Cortezada 2011
Denser and more lifted aromatically, brisk concentrated quince like, high acids.

Adega Algueira Merenzao 2010
Spicy wild earthy, generous yet tight.

Adega AlgueiraCarravel Barrica Mencia 2009
Denser tight, softer and fuller.

Adega Algueira Pizarra 2010
Not seeing it, might need more time.

Quinta Da Muradella Caino Redondo 2009
Too funky and wild, tougher more traditional and rustic.

Quinta Da Muradella Souson 2009
Closed and developed, tight focused acid great.

Exopto Horizonte Blanco 2011
Juicy fruit (musk) sweet, quite different, more Loire style.

Exopto Bozeto de Exopto 2011
Soft bright juicy clean, pleasant character, exceptional value.

Exopto Horizonte de Exopto 2010
Tighter more integrated, much more traditional.

Exopto de Exopto 2009
Deep and soft, juicy reflection of the variety.

Felix Callejo Rosado Vina Pilar 2012
Juicy fresh red fruit sweet.

Felix Callejo Flores de Callejo 2010
Bold juicy dark and intense, fairly straight-forward.

Felix Callejo Crianza 2009
Denser earthier and fuller, quite vintage specific.

Felix Callejo Majuelos de Callejo 2009
Tighter grainier and earthier, very generous.

Felix Callejo Gran Callejo 2006
Intense tight precise and still closed.

Felix Callejo Finca Valdelroble 2008
Stinky reduction, bright wild salty.

Felix Callejo Finca Valdelroble 2009
Juicy hot still very fresh.

Condado de Haza 2009
Very intense dark almost molasses, very soft easy and generous.

El Vinculo Crianza 2006
Extremely traditional, burnt aromatics.

Pesquera Tinto Crianza 2009
Wild earthy savoury, soft concentrated, REAL.

Pesquera Tinto Crianza 2010
Rounder larger fuller, not too different in fact.

Pesquera Reserva 2008
Wild earthy savoury, unbelievably tight.

Dehesa La Granja Tempranillo 2005
Soft bright and generous.

Bodegas Carchello 2011
Quite spicy and approachable.

Terroir Al Limit Torroja Vi de Vila 2011
Light fresh pure lean and clean.

Terroir Al Limit L’Arbossar 2010
Tighter, denser more generous.

Terroir Al Limit Dits del Terra 2010
So elegant but hauntingly complex.

Terroir Al Limit Les Manyes 2010
Beautifully floral yet spicy, intense and tight, extremely long.

Terroir Al Limit Les Tosses 2010
Darker more brooding and more fruit sweetness.

Clos Manyettes Priorat 2007
Punchy and unctuous.

Clos Mogador 2007
Toasty smoky earthy wild terroir wine.

Equipo Navazos No. 31 La Bota de Amontillado
Toasty caramel nose, rich but still dry, wild and feral.

Equipo Navazos No. 37 La Bota de Amontillado
Creamier honeyed spice caramel, salty richer rollier.

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South by South-East (Rioja, Spain – Day Four)

It’s funny how everyone’s concept of quality is different. In New World wine-producing countries the only laws and restrictions we have on our wines relate to labelling, whereby if we label our wines as being from a variety, region and/or vintage, they must be a minimum level (e.g. a minimum 85% in Australia). This doesn’t mean we have to use these minimums, we can always not indicate any of these things on the label. In Europe on the other hand, most of the wine regions and countries have established sometimes complicated systems and laws governing viticulture and wine production to maintain and in some cases guarantee quality. Take the Rioja Denominacion de Origen Calficada (DOCa, the only one in Spain not including the Priorat DOCQ) for example. The classification relates to red wines, and limits the maximum yield per hectare to 6.5 tonnes, and only allows tempranillo, graciano, garnacha tinto and mazuelo. There are then four quality designations that are determined based on the barrel and bottle ageing, from the young/Joven wines, to Crianza (minimum one year in oak, total two years before release), Reserva (minimum one year in barrel, total three years before release), and Gran Reserva (minimum two years in barrel, minimum three years in bottle). This comes back to my initial comment, that quality is partly subjective and somewhat controversial, as many producers forego the system in favour of less oak ageing, and they would be considered far superior in quality compared to others. Simply labelling a wine as Gran Reserva is no indication of quality at the end of the day. Like any wine (or product for that matter) regardless of origin , all you can do is trust the producer, but unfortunately you can’t tell the quality of a wine when it is the bottle.

Above Rioja Orientale vineyards near Alfaro

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What’s the deal? (Rioja, Spain – Day Three)

Despite the fact that the Rioja region only runs for about 130 km, it is an unbelievably diverse region geologically and climatically, not to mention the fat that it actually crosses three political regions of La Rioja, Basque and Navarra. The region follows the Ebra River and which sits between the Cantabrian Mountains to the northeast and another range to the South-West, and has a wide valley ideal for the cultivation of a range of agricultural products. The climate is quite interesting, as it is a combination of Atlantic, Mediterranean and Continental. They are protected from rain coming from the north so it is very dry, and as they have cool air sucked up the valley from the Mediterranean so it is relatively cool at night. The micro-climate depends on a number of factors, including elevation, aspect and soil, the latter of which varying significantly from alluvial, to calcareous, to clay, limestone and chalk. The fact that most wine in Rioja is blended from a great range of these individual terroirs means that you are losing a lot of the nuances, but luckily there are estates like the three I visited today who are focusing on village and single vineyard wines in the future.

Rioja Alavesa as depicted by an artist that lived at Remelluri

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A healthy mix (Rioja, Spain – Day Two)

So here it is; Rioja is a big deal. With over 14,000 vineyards across 65,000 hectares it is the largest producing region in Spain. It is by no means the largest in area though, only stretching for 130 km from Haro to Alfaro, the vineyard planting is possibly the densest in Spain. Although there are 14,000 vineyards, there are only 583 business with a license to bottle, meaning there are many more growers than producers, like Champagne. Also like Champagne there are quite a few large producers, but large here means for than one million cases. Vineyards are spread across the three viticultural sub-regions of Rioja Alta, Rioja Alavesa and Rioja Orientale, and generally wine is blended across the three in different volumes. Rioja wine is the most exported and consumed around the world, and would most likely be the first region that comes to mind when considering Spanish wine regions. The three appointments I had on my second day in the region were in the three main type of winery; one large commercial winery, one mid-sized modern negociant, and one iconic super-premium producer.

Above Rioja Alavesa

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The rain in Spain (Rioja, Spain – Day One)

What a shame that the weekend I happened to be in one of the best beach towns in Spain – during June (aka summer) I might add –  it was raining. This was particularly disappointing considering how hot it was the past week in Priorat and Penedes; why couldn’t I have brought it with me? Adding to my luck I then took it to Rioja with me the following Monday morning, but I’ll come back to that. I managed to get over the poor weather in San Sebastian by hitting the bars (a bit hard), and also the tapas (even harder). There is a good reason why this town is considered to be one of the best to visit in Spain, as the old town has a very extreme concentration of night spots. I sampled a range of pinchos from various bars, and also popped into one of the top wine bars in town, A Fugo Negro, where I tried some wines from a number of regions in Spain, as well as a sensational ceviche dish. On the Monday I hit the dusty (more wet actually) trail for Rioja, less than two hours south-west, for my first and second appointments in the icon region of Spain.

Ceviche with pomegranate seeds and strawberry foam at A Fugo Negro

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Palacios Remondo – 14/06/2012

La Vendemia 2011 (50% garnacha, 50% tempranillo)
Lovely light bright ruby red colour. Some floral spice, clear grenache influence, violets and roses. Fresh, fruit sweet blackforest, dark cherry notes. Soft mellow full, generosity of fruit sweet characters, possibly some R/S? Approachable and delicious, very appealing, good with food. Great balance and character.

Placet 2009 (100% viura)
Very elegant mineral rich nose, delicate white floral, white peach and some citrus notes, some very faint battonage characters. Body viscosity and richness without being heavy, fat or buttery. Ripe tropical fruits and good consistency, lots of life and vibrancy, lingering texture and a little warmth for good measure.

La Montesa 2009 (50% garnacha, 40% tempranillo, 10% mazuela)
Slightly pale brick red. Beautifully unique floral notes, slightly hazel(?), black fruits. Wonderful depth concentration, elegance and delicacy, balance of sweet red fruits and savoury elements; earth, slight sweet spice, very fine well structured tannins, an outstanding Rioja wine.

Propiedad 2010 (97% garnacha, 3% tempranillo)
Surprisingly light colour, red not purple. Quite a concentrated dark fruit and floral nose with some dried herbal notes, dried rose petals. Full sweet fruit and oak tannins, quite soft and mellow though. Feeling the warmth in it’s youth, looking slightly candied. Wonderful depth, concentration and extension.

Palacios Remondo tasting

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Artadi – 14/06/2012

Vinas de Gain Blanco 2008
Delicate honey citrus, guava peach, nice clean minerality, rich sandy soils. Good texture, mid-weight, fresh but full and expressive. Good concentration and balance, tight acids and fruit, plenty of time to open up in the bottle and develop more richness and viscosity.

Vinas de Gain Tinto 2009
Nice ripe and tight black fruits, blackberry, spice, some garnacha influence? Quite intense and dark, mouth-filling brisk and firm tannins, quite tight and full, some weight as well. Reasonable maceration and fine oak tannins, still very youthful and powerful, will benefit with a few years in the bottle.

Pagos Viejos 2007
Lovely dark fruits, very intense and concentrated, good ripeness and expressive aromatics, oak well integrated, red earth and slight dustiness. Big powerful warm and intense on the palate, teeth-staining extraction, very intense new oak, very modern intense wine, needs a lot of ageing, far too heavy and intense now. Architype icon Spanish wine. Better when you drink it, but still.

Artadi back-vintage

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Companio de Vinos – 13/06/2012

El Transistor 2010 (Rueda, Verdejo)
Lovely bright citrus, tropical notes, not the Marlborough SB profile I have seen in others, fresh and inviting. Clean pure minerality, nice battonage notes very subtle, great fruit, but very pure balanced and drinkable. Friendly but with character.

Mountain Blanco 2010 (Malaga)
Lovely musky nose, quite subtle though, very inviting like an Italian dry moscato. Wonderful texture, appearance of fruit sweetness, bold and generous, pure and deep. Balanced friendly, wonderfully drinkable, hard to spit out.

LZ 2011 (Rioja, Joven Tempranillo)
Bright rosy black fruit nose, juicy plum blackberry, wonderfully fresh and soft, generous inviting with nice core of sweet black fruit and well managed tannins and acids. Approachable but good character.

Lanzaga 2008 (Rioja)
Open soft red fruits, subtle earth and mushroom notes. Pure focused, great drive and extension, gentle caressing tannins, not broad heavy or sweet, nice balance and concentration of fruit, some mineral characters. Fantastic integrated acids.

Altos Lanzaga 2007 (Rioja)
Darker colour, more concentrated and extractive, possible vintage-specific. Incredibly dense complex nose, very quiet fruits and well integrated oak notes. Darker more intense fruit, a little warmer on the palate, very concentrated and much more classic profile of Rioja, dark fruits, power and expression, balanced and ageable.

Gago 2008 (Toro)
Quite dark purple colour, very intense. Lovely savoury tar and black and blue fruits. Soft mellow, full and dark, slightly leathery but still very drinkable, more brooding in character, really concentrated. Amazing structure, will soften up nicely given time.

Pegaso Barrancas de Pizzara 2009 (Cebreros, 100% garnacha)
Smokier flintier more raisined notes, candied florals. Daker heavier more intense, sweeter black fruit, softer and more open, less concentration of tannins.

Pegaso Granito 2008 (Cebreros, 100% garnacha)
Seductive dark floral notes, sweet fruits very red and blue, not heavy, quite fresh but intense dark and expressive. Approachable delicious bang for buck value in a glass, what you want, what you need. Plenty of tannins.
The definition of a sustainable winery

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Bodegas y Vinedos La Bastida – 13/06/2012

Montebuena Tempranillo Joven 2011
Bright blackforest sweet fruit nose, very ripe, slight carbonic notes, candied floral notes, very potent and fruity. Fresh definitely fruit sweet, candied but not oppressively so, intense juiciness and brightness, plenty of volume and chewy generosity.

Crianza 2008
Nice earthy slightly dirty red fruit notes, slight lamb chop fat notes. Much bolder and denser on the palate, not smooth or opulent, but tight and expressive. Plenty of acids, oak subdueing the fruit. A tad sharp and lacking in generosity.

Reserva 2005
Combination of mature oak, ripe green and red vegetables, and dark red fruits. Mouth-filling depth and intensity, bold expressive tannins with plenty of acid to balance, good savoury and fruit elements working together. Still quite young, but oak looking well integrated.

Manuel Quitano 2004
Quite bold international maceration oak nose, a very fine example nonetheless. Chocolate banana, coconut milkshake, blackcurrant sweetness. Intense powerful full tannins, quite dark but still has some brightness, micro-oxygenation making the wine look prematurely old. Good structure, good fruit, just a shame about the oak treatment.

The range at La Bastida

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Bodegas Remelluri – 13/06/2012

Lindes de Remelluri 2008

Bright fresh ruby notes, very delicate ripe tomatoes and balsamic notes. Soft juicy fresh but focused, full flavoured approachable, firm tannins, extension and focus. Great wine from a great vintage.

Remelluri Reserva 2008

Dense bright red fruits, soft velvety tannins, very opulent. Freshness but very subtle earthy mineral notes. Wonderful concentration, superb ageing potential.

Remelluri Reserva 2007

Darker softer fuller, more blackcurrant richer creamier sweet fruits and tannins, bold fruit intensity, broader and fuller on the palate, quite intense but a gentle structure.

Barriques in the cellars of Bodegas Remelluri

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