2019 Rioja Blanco
|Grapes||Jaén Blanca, Malvasía Riojana (Alarije), Viura|
Every bottle of this delicious white is numbered. With just over 6000 bottles made, this is certainly small scale, but it packs an impressively neat punch. Not heavyweight at all, but beautifully intense and bright. There are flashes of smoky, flinty Pouilly Fumé a restrained mineral streak of Chablis and then a firm, textured middle that is inherently Spanish. Yet it is all delivered so seamlessly you just cant stop going back for more. From vines going back more than 60 years there is a wonderful density to the juice. A nice weight of hard stone-fruit, with pear-like texture too, a whiff of gunflint and brisk saline finish. Seriously good. L&S (Feb 2021)
*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.
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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