|Grapes||Malvasía Riojana (Alarije), Viura, Jaén Blanca|
Reductive notes on the nose with a flinty smoky whiff. This is present on the palate with attractive peach and stone fruits, the smoky notes come through on the finish – good acidity and very interesting. I think this needs some food, and is what I would call a ‘somm wine’. Drinking range: 2019 - 2024 Rating: 16 Alistair Cooper MW - www.JancisRobinson.com (Dec 2019)
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100% head/goblet trained. Climate: The vintage was marked by extreme humidity conditions in spring. Soils: Calcareous marl soils on eroded slopes. Shallow soils with pockets of low intensity marl near the surface (25-50 cm). Winegrowing: Own vineyards worked with minimal intervention and sustainable viticulture. Head-trained vines. Minimum tillage. The age of the vines ranges between 45 and 65 years old. Vineyards: El Pedrón, La Entrada, El chorro and La Quemada. Harvest: 100% manual in 200 kg boxes. 27th September to 5th October. Winemaking: Gentle, low-yield pressing with a manual basket press. Fermentation with natural yeasts in Hungarian and French 500-litre oak barrels and in concrete tank. Aged on the lees for five months. Bottled: May 2019 4933 bottles.Winemaker's notes (May 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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