2019 Garnacha de Altura Sierra de Toloño
This is the second vintage of a wine that was the red discovery of the year in my 2020 report and it's even better than the first release, taking its place among the best Garnachas in Rioja. The vines are planted at 700 metres and have produced something with intensity, grace, purity and palate length. Truly the Pinot Noir of the south. Drinking range: 2024 - 2031 Rating: 97 Tim Atkin MW, www.timatkin.com (Feb 2021)
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SOIL Heterogeneous soil in these old plots of Garnacha. The soil developed on the marls gives limestone and clay. There are also stony soils (cascajo) formed by the accumulation of limestones fallen from the top of the mountain.
VINEYARDS Several octogenarian plots of Garnacha from high altitude (700 m). They are the last plots of this variety that have remained in the area. A taste of the authentic Garnacha of the Sierra de Toloño.
BLENDING Garnacha. These vineyards have some vines of Garnacha Gris, which are harvested along with the Garnacha, making a perfect blending.
WINEMAKING AND AGING It ferments slowly and spontaneously in small foudres at a very low temperature. The aging is carried out in amphorae of 300 litres so that the Garnacha breathes and rounds, giving its greatest expressiveness. Unfiltered and unfined. 3,600 bottles produced.
TASTING NOTES Atlantic wine, sharp and really floral. With an acidity that surprises and is in perfect balance with the smooth tannins. Pale, refined and elegant. Pure freshness that moves you directly to the landscape of the Mountain.Winemaker's notes (Apr 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 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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