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.
RP 92 pts
This is made from 90% Viura and 10% Garnacha from the town of Galbarruri, just at the base of the Obarenes mountains. All work is done by hand without herbacides or fertilizers. The intact bunches are pressed slowly, and the wines are aged in used French demi-muid for over a year. The debut release already shows a heady mix of precocious fruit coupled with a muscular mouthfeel and terrific length. Fennel and licorice aromas, some waxy apples and a white pepper twist. The palate is serious and austere, very tasty, polished and velvety.
I was quite surprised by the expressive nose of the 2017 Blanco, because they are more focused on the texture than the nose. It's a blend of Viura with 10% Garnacha Blanca that started fermenting in stainless steel and finished in barrique, where it matured for one year. They had less impact from the frost in the whites than in the reds. The wine has citrus aromas, hints of diesel, dried yellow flowers and a touch of smoke. It's beautifully textured, with intense and pungent flavors and a clear saline note. Truly delicious. 4,500 bottles produced.