Made from the best grapes picked from old, gnarly bush vines grown in four different Rioja Alta plots, this wine uses 97% Tempranillo blended with 3% Mazuelo from plots in the legendary Viña Lanciano vineyard.
The result of using the best grapes from these vines is that the wine has the depth and strength of substance to stand up to lengthy ageing, remaining true to its place of origin, rather than becoming overpowered by the oak influences.
Intense flavours of ripe black and red fruits, figs and some dried berry notes lead to a panoply of spice and smoke that, in turn, lead to a beautifully smooth, soft and perfectly balanced palate. The tannins support the wine at this stage rather than overpower, and the juicy structure provides a phenomenally long finish.
It is aged for 25 months in hybrid American and French oak barrels and then aged in bottle for a minimum of 3 years to allow it to take on those quintessential Gran Reserva flavours and characteristics.
This is a very sophisticated, refined and balanced wine.
The winery is a relatively young one: established in 1972, they have not quite rewritten the rules, but they have certainly done things in their own way. The winery is just outside the town of Fuenmayor - in wine terms right on the border with Rioja Alavesa - in political terms right on the border with the Basque country. The Lanciano vineyard sits between the winery and the town of Logroño.
The wines have been made by María Barúa since 2002 and her specific expertise in oak use has led to these developments that allow for myriad flavours of the grapes themselves to be experienced, rather than just the flavour of oak. Funny in this day of oak use being abandoned across the board, her argument is that there is no need to reduce or do away with barriques at all, because there will always be a place for them, so long as the right barrels are used with the right wines.
This, the most barrel-heavy of all wines, is also the one where the quality of fruit can stand up to it the most. In fact the barrels play support-act to the fruit and the balance sets up an ageing potential that could last for decades.
Grape(s): Tempranillo, Mazuelo
Style: Svelte, Smooth, Silky, Refined, Pure, Perfumed, Medium Bodied, Meditation, Iconic, Fruity, Engaging, Elegant, Dry, Creamy, Complex, Bright, Balanced
Best food matches: Wild Boar, Venison, Veal, Tapas, Steak, St Stephen's Day, Soft Cheeses, Roasts, Red Meats, Poultry, Mature Cheeses, Lamb, Hard Cheeses, Grilled Vegetables, Game, Fine Dining, Duck, Christmas Dinner, Cheeses, Charcuterie, Beef