2016 Camino de Santa Cruz Sierra de Toloño

Grapes Tempranillo
Colour Red
Origin Spain, Rioja
District Rioja Alavesa
ABV 13%

This wine used to be known as Rivas de Tereso and is one of Sandra's very special, small production releases from a specific old vineyard of pure Tempranillo. As before this is fermented in amphoras and then aged for one year in barrels. Incredible purity to this fabulous wine. So mineral, wafts of balsamic then black fruit berries and gorgeous fresh herbs too. For Sandra this is the optimal expression of Sierra de Toloño. Only 900 bottles produced. L&S (May 2018)

*Case price discount: Mix any 12 bottles (or 9l equivalent) of wine or 6 bottles of Champagne, Spirits, Sweet Wine or Fortified to get the 'case price' for each bottle.

Serious Rioja doesn't just have to mean vanilla and toasted oak. This single-vineyard Alavesa offering from winemaker Sandra Bravo was fermented in amphora before being aged in used barrels. On the palate it's thrillingly spicy and tannic, but so pure-fruited. The herbal character reminds me of Georgia's traditional gvevri reds. Drinking range: 2020 - 2031 Rating: 93 Decanter Magazine(Aug 2019)

The single-vineyard red 2016 Camino de Santa Cruz is a wine she wanted to call Rivas de Tereso, but she was not allowed, so she named it after the plot where the grapes grow. It's an aromatic red with intense aromas of violets and the hallmark signature of 2016, and has a surplus of minerality because of the high limestone content of the soils, with some Mediterranean undertones. With time in the glass, it reveals some classical Rioja notes of forest floor, truffle and mushrooms. It fermented in 300-liter amphorae and matured in well-seasoned, neutral 500-liter oak barrels for 12 months. The medium-bodied palate is elegant, and the tannins are round and make it very pleasant and approachable. 1,120 bottles were filled in November 2017. Drinking range: 2019 - 2026 Rating: 93 Luis Gutierrez, 2019)

This could be classified as a new Viñedo Singular, but Sandra Bravo says that she can't face the bureaucracy this would involve. Made with Tempranillo from a high, rocky, limestone based site and aged in a combination of amphorae and larger oak, it's a serious, sappy red with violet and wild thyme aromas, redcurrant and pomegranate fruit and palate-cleansing acidity. 2021-30 Drinking range: 2021 - 2030 Rating: 95 Tim Atkin MW, 2019)

Sierra de Toloño

Sandra Bravo is a seriously exciting winemaker. Working with some of the highest altitude vineyards in Rioja – with plots of very old vines, she is hunting out freshness and purity. Having travelled the world and made wines in Bordeaux, Tuscany, New Zealand and California she has returned to Spain with her eyes wide open and a brave ambition to show the different expressions of Rioja. It does not all have to be blended, heavily-oaked, creamy and rich any more. Her delicately shaped – intensely pure wines are a revelation. With a range now of different releases each profiling a particular vineyard or a particular grape variety she is making some of the most drinkable and delicious wines in the region. No surprises she has been crowned the 2019 ‘Young Winemaker of the Year’ by Rioja expert, the wine critic Tim Atkin MW.

Sandra originally comes from Rioja, and returned there to start this project. 2012 was the first vintage. Sandra has trained in Bordeaux, Chianti, Marlborough, California, and is still currently winemaker for one othe bigger producers in Priorat. She has returned home to make a Rioja which reflects the land and climate of this particular corner of Rioja Alavesa. The wine comes from old goblet trained Tempranillo vines grown on calcareous clay are at 650m in Labastida - one of the highest vineyards of the Rioja region. The mountains of the Sierra de Toloño protect the vines from northerly winds and create a special microclimate, cold because it is so high, but dry with the Mediterranean influence despite being so far north. All this is perfect for the grapes to ripen fully over a long time in the bright light but relatively cool temperatures - the ripeness comes slowly, retaining natural acidity. The grapes are harvested into 15kg boxes, sorted at the vine, and taken to the winery in Laguardia. Here Sandra does a very conservative vinification, with a cold soak to start with to preserve the freshness of the fruit, and then only a gentle pigeage. After the vinification the wine is aged just six months in French oak barrels, and bottled without fineing of filtration. For the 2013 Sandra is delighted to have some amphorae, and will make a wine with no oak at all, aged just in these.

News 07/02/19 : Great to see Sandra Bravo getting the credit that she deserves from Tim Atkin, who has awarded her his young winemaker of the year - a great friend and brilliant winemaker, brava!

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