ESCONDITE DEL ARDACHO
2017 El Abundillano Tentenublo
This one-hectare field blend of Garnacha with 10% Tempranillo and Malvasía was planted at the turn of the last century on red clay and sand soils. The resulting wine is rich and well upholstered with plenty of alcohol, a spicy, mulberry core and palate-cleansing acidity. Bold and complex. Drinking range: 2020 - 2025 Tim Atkin MW, www.timatkin.com (Feb 2019)
*Case price discount: Mix any 12 bottles (or 9l equivalent) of wine or 6 bottles of Champagne, Spirits or Fortified to get the 'case price' for each bottle.
Roberto Oliván has owned this venerable, one-hectare Garnacha-dominated parcel since he was 16 years’ old. So he’s very attached to it. Planted on red soils, the resulting wine is very Garnacha in style, combining acidity and sweet black fruit flavours, with fine, sinewy tannins and freshness from its location at 595 metres. Tangy and long. 2021-30 Drinking range: 2021 - 2030 Rating: 94-94 Tim Atkin MW, www.timatkin.com(Oct 2018)
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 hail cloud 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.
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