Tentenublo

Spain, Rioja
http://www.tentenublo.com/

Roberto Oliván is the force behind Tentenublo, and he is one of the growing band of Rioja winemakers who are much more interested in making extraordinary wines from single sites rather than volume blends. He has some vines which are in the family, and has gathered together many little vineyard plots around Viñaspre, his home village, near Lanciego in Rioja Alavesa. The high altitude helps define the brightly-defined style of his wines.

The name 'Tentenublo' comes from ringing bells - in Rioja, bells are rung to ward off hailstorms (to what effect is less clear) - which accounts for the animated bell chasing a rather blobby-looking hailstone on the label. With the Xérico label - a wonderfully nineteenth century looking masterpiece which has a picture of a different ancestor of Roberto's in each vintage, these make up the bigger cuvées that he makes.

The second main line he calls Escondite del Ardacho, after a local lizard. So far he has released four wines from different parcels around Viñaspre and each with different grape mixes under this label, so you have to look carefully for the cuvée name...

Finally (at least for now), there are some new wines released under the Los Corrillos label, the blending of some of the Viñaspre plots.

For anyone used to the rather bland merchant blends of Rioja, these wines might be described as 'challenging', but if you are prepared to give them time to open up in the glass, to try them with food, you will be rewarded by the great complexity and individuality that they offer.

I went to Viñaspre to visit some of Roberto Oliván's vineyards to get a better understanding of his wines. He works a myriad of tiny plots with very old vines, some of which are almost dying and many plants are missing, so yields are tiny. Truly handcrafted terroir wines. Luis Gutierrez, www.robertparker.com (Aug 2016)