2019 Rioja Sierra de Toloño
Raposo is made from a fantastic vineyard of old vine Tempranilllo. Sandra told us that in Raposo she is able to bottle exactly "what the Village of Villabuena de Alava represents for me." From beautiful vineyards perched at 500 meters altitude with warmer weather and different soils, comes this stunning expression of Tempranillo. Here there is less clay and more alluvial soil. The results are totally Sandra - yet with a lovely, different feel to her other wines. Black and ripe, well-defined fruit is punctuated with lovely aromas of dried red flowers. This is aged for one year in big old barrels (3000 litres), which preserves the freshness of the nicely weighted, ripe fruit. So softly textured and beautifully detailed with gorgeously fine tannins, and vibrant mineral vein, salty and almost ferrous on the end - but this just underpins the whole so well. L&S (Jun 2022)
*Case price discount: Mix any 12 bottles (or 9l equivalent) of wine or 6 bottles of Champagne, Spirits, Sweet Wine or Fortified to get the 'case price' for each bottle.
Raposo comes from two vineyards in Villabuena de Álava and is a classic field blend of Tempranillo with a little Graciano, Garnacha and white grapes. Sappy, tangy and focused, with crunchy black cherry and bramble fruit and a chalky undertone. Wonderfully energetic. Drinking range: 2023 - 2029 Rating: 93 Tim Atkin MW, www.timatkin.com (Feb 2022)
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.
If you thought all Rioja was much the same - think again. This case will take you on a tour of the exciting, evolving landscape here. From the bigger, more traditional mellowness of Ruconia’s Reserva with its long barrel ageing, via the light bright and crisp elegance of Sandra Bravo's high altitude Sierra do Tolono, to the more exuberant full on fruit led style of the Artuke wines, this selection encompasses so much of what is exciting and tasty about Rioja.
Rioja - it may have been around for years, but it's bang up to date.
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