It’s often forgotten that what we know as “Traditional Rioja” is less than 150 years old, having been created in the wake of Phylloxera in the late 1800s. Before that, an earlier tradition flourished that featured viticulture and winemaking on a far smaller scale, allowing vine-by-vine attention to fruit quality, and the inclusion of stems during fermentation and shorter time in larger barrels.
Since 2014, the husband-wife team of Oscar Alegre and Eva Valgañón have embraced this even more ancient tradition. By working strictly with tiny lots, they are turning out head-spinning reds and whites that capture the best of their beloved land’s 1,000+ year history. And, their wines informed by this ancestral wisdom, are offering something unique in today’s Rioja landscape.
The 2016 Tinto is a blend of 80% Tempranillo and 20% Garnacha, fermented with indigenous yeasts and some 15% of the stems in the case of Tempranillo and almost 30% in the case of the Garnacha. The wine matured in a combination of 225- and 500-liter oak barrels. It has the advantage of the 2016 vintage, with floral aromas and citrus freshness (it makes me think of blood orange). It has perfectly integrated oak and fine tannins and feels clean (which is how they described the character of the Tempranillo from one of the main vineyards). It's very pleasant and very good for what it is. 23,000 bottles produced. It was bottled in March 2018.