2017 Rivas de Tereso Sierra de Toloño

Grapes Viura
Colour White
Origin Spain, Rioja
Other Vegetarian, Practising Organic, Vegan
District Rioja Alavesa
ABV 12.5%

This has such intense, fresh, lemon, pineapple and minerally, stony aromas with a ripe-melon and nectarine-flavored palate that holds very long, fresh and focused. Flinty kick to close. Drink now. Rating: 92 James Suckling, (Jul 2019)

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There are now new wines from Villabuena de Álava, so the 2017 NAHI Blanco has been joined by a red with the same name. It has volume and more clout and depth and keeps very good freshness. She tries to keep the oak to a minimum to keep the fruit and the origin. This 2017 feels a little shy and has a smoky touch, with floral notes and some citrus aromas and flavors, and it only has a sweet-ish touch on the finish. It's mostly Viura but has other white grapes, such as Malvasía Riojana and other old varieties like Calagraño and Rojal. It comes from five small plots, and they only produce 600 bottles, so yields were extremely low. It takes some time to take off in the glass, but it finally develops beautiful aromatics, including some mineral/diesel-like tones, which might give us an idea of how slowly the wine is going to develop in bottle. The vineyards are in the process of being recovered, so the volume might increase in the following years. It was bottled in May 2018. Drinking range: 2019 - 2023 Rating: 92 Luis Gutierrez, (Jun 2019)

This 0-5-hectare parcel of old vines in Villabuena de Álava is an unusual field blend of Viura, Malvasía, Rojal and Calagraño. Fermented in larger wood, the resulting wine is honeyed and spicy, with notes of wild flowers, cinnamon and chalky freshness. Drinking range: 2019 - 2023 Rating: 93 Tim Atkin MW, (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 and heavily-oaked 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 was crowned the 2019 ‘Young Winemaker of the Year’ by Rioja expert and 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 worked in two of the larger wineries in Priorat, where she was influenced by Ricard Rofes, (now in charge of Scala Dei). 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 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 neutral French oak barrels, and bottled without fining of filtration. From the 2013 vintage Sandra has also been working with amphorae, distancing herself even further from the oaky traditions of Rioja.

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