|Grapes||Tempranillo, Garnacha, Viura|
Roberto Olifan is crafting wondrous wines on the high ground of Alavesa. Working organically with some gorgeous old bush vines. His wines have a purity and impeccable structure that makes you marvel. This is just one of his range – but gives real pleasure and is a shining example of the exciting new wave here in Rioja. Deep and well framed dark fruit – there is incredible spice too. A dark line and light, more savoury note melds well with the fresh hints of wild green herbs. Nature is tamed here and the results are seriously satisfying. L&S (May 2020)
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D.O.Ca Rioja. Subzone: Rioja Alavesa. Location: Viñaspre (Álava). Plots: La Balsa, El Prado, La Abejera, La Quemada, El Castillejo, Pieza Naya, Las del Vasco and La Fuente Colas. Varieties: Tempranillo, Garnacha, and others. 100% Goblet trained. Climate: Zone with little shelter, exposed to the rigors of the northern winds, and rains associated with the Sierra de Cantabria mountain range. The vintage was marked by extreme drought conditions during the spring and summer, two years of drought conditions. Soils: Structural planes on marl and limestone situated at a 600 meter altitude. Shallow soils, low incline to flat slopes with a sandstone bedrock and marl packs at very shallow and low intensity (25-50cm). The soils dedicated to this wine are a special case in limestone lithology, with sandstone of a medium to coarse grain. They are brown soils with a tendency towards red and a 40% level of sand and high in iron oxide. Viticulture: Own vineyard worked under minimal intervention and reasonable viticulture. Minimal tillage. Vines aged between 20 to 100 years. Harvest: 100% by hand in 15 kilo boxes. Elaboration: Spontaneous fermentation in open stainless steel vats of different capacities; light punching down, malolactic and aging in French oak barrels for 9 months. Bottling: August 2018 Nº of Bottles: 9460Winemaker's notes(Jan 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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