2017 Sierra de Toloño
A varietal Garnacha from Riva de Tereso, the 2017 La Dula comes from a small 80-year-old plot planted in 1944, so production is extremely low. It's bottled unoaked and matured in amphorae to see what the pure grape delivers. It's fruit-driven and shows some ripeness from a warm and dry year. This tends to have very high acidity, so the grapes are picked late to achieve good ripeness. It fermented in tinaja (amphorae), where it's kept for a few months and then is bottled early. There are perfumed notes, and something herbal/wild that I like. The palate reveals fine-grained tannins and clean flavors. Only 670 bottles produced. It was bottled in November 2018. Drinking range: 2019 - 2022 Rating: 92 Luis Gutierrez, www.robertparker.com (Jun 2019)
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It's very rare to find Garnacha grown on the upper slopes of the Sierra Cantabria, given how cold it can be in a zone that can be "bestial", according to Sandra Bravo. But this 76-year-old vineyard, picked at the end of October, has delivered a wine with appealing focus and zip, embellished by crunchy red fruits and garrigue spice. Drinking range: 2020 - 2026 Rating: 93 Tim Atkin MW, www.timatkin.com(Feb 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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