2018 Garnacha de Altura Sierra de Toloño
The fruit for this small cuvée comes from several small plots whose old vines of Garnacha and Garnacha Gris average 80 years old. The vineyards are all very high too at 700m. This gives the juice an intensity and also an incredible purity. This truly is a mountain wine. Fermented in small barrels and then aged in amphora to round out the fruit without adding any oak notes - this is all about pure fruit expression. A total joy to taste. Bright red fruits - floral too and so refined. As Tim Atkin notes when crowning this his 'Red Wine Discovery' of the year - this calls to mind a Pinot-like feel and elegance. Sophisticated stuff. L&S (Mar 2020)
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In 2012, Sandra Bravo settled in the high altitudes of Rioja Alavesa, where she found small parcels of old-vine garnacha that reminded her of vineyards she had worked with in Priorat. This 2018 is the first release of her Garnachas de Altura, from a collection of small parcels in Rivas de Tereso, a village of 21 people in the northern reaches of Rioja, above San Vicente de la Sonsierra. The vines average 70 years of age and grow at elevations of 2,300 feet in a mix of clay and limestone soils; Bravo has purchased some of the parcels, and farms them all, converting them to organics. She allows the wine to ferment spontaneously in old casks, then ages it in clay pots. You can taste the influence of the altitude and the limestone in the bright, zesty coolness of the fruit, in the light intensity of the strawberry flavors and crushed-black- peppercorn crunch. It’s a lithe Rioja delivering the beauty of the hills, a wine to enjoy fresh and young. Rating: 94 Joshua Greene - wineandspiritsmagazine.com(Jan 2021)
Sandra Bravo is a Garnacha lover who's keen to preserve old parcels of this special grape in Rioja. This comes from four different high-altitude sites, all of which are at least 60 years' old, and is a stunning first release, which emphasises structure, freshness and fruit intensity rather than oak. Pale, refined and elegant, it's a wine that justifies the variety's description as the "Pinot of the south". Drinking range: 2023 - 2030 Rating: 96 Tim Atkin MW, www.timatkin.com(Mar 2020)
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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