2017 Blanco Tentenublo
|Grapes||Jaén Blanca, Malvasía Riojana (Alarije), Viura|
One of Roberto’s limited production wines (1055 bottles), and as remarkable as all the others. Deep yellow gold. The nose in one sense gives little away at this early stage - delicate fresh straw and herbal notes backed by a citrus and mineral freshness, and hints of something floral. The palate is even more dramatic as a result, softly round and mouth filling, floral, waxy notes, dense phenolics and even a tongue-sucking tannin on the finish which seems to hold the flavour in the mouth. It’s almost tactile and dryly salivating. Extraordinary length as a result. It will be fascinating to follow it as it ages and develops, but in terms of complexity for the money, this is already giving bang for buck. Drinking range: 2019 - L&S (Nov 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.
Golden hue. Very interesting nose, herbal and white flowers with a waxy smoky note. Very vinous and mouth-filling (but not oily) with quite marked tannic bite on the mid-end palate. Very nice flinty smoke with walnuts and just enough acidity to carry it through. Drinking range: 2019 - 2027 Rating: 17 Alistair Cooper MW - www.JancisRobinson.com(Dec 2019)
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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