I’m currently in the process of writing up a series based on a visit to Rioja. The latest instalment involves Valdemar, who are doing some interesting work with new varieties in Rioja.
One that is completely new is Tempranillo Blanco, which is a white variety that was discovered in the middle of a vineyard a decade [...]
Had a very enjoyable dinner last night at the offices of Mentzendorff, a major high-end UK agency house. It was more fun than work, but I took some notes on the wines in my usual geeky way. Here they are.
Champagne Ayala Perle d’Ayala Nature 2002
This is the non-dosage version of Ayala’s prestige cuvee, and it’s one [...]
Here’s a short film from my recent Rioja trip. It looks at the harvest at a couple of wineries. There’s a contrast between Finca Allende receiving their Graciano, and La Rioja Alta and their grape reception. The racking of the tens of thousands of barrels at La Rioja Alta is also really interesting.
Sadly, it was the last day in Rioja. Just one visit: LAN.
I’d really enjoyed the previous two days, but up till now we hadn’t been shown a single vineyard. This is despite the fact that Rioja’s treasures are its wonderful vineyards, and the weather was perfect for photography. It’s probably because this is a very [...]
So it was off to Calle Laurel for the compulsory tapas bar crawl last night. It was Tuesday, so it wasn’t terribly busy, but there was enough of a buzz for it to be fun.
The way it works is that each of the scores of tapas bars tends to specialize in one dish. You order [...]
Day two in Rioja has been another day of contrasts. Three very different wineries, reflecting the spread that you find in this region.
First up, La Riojanas - with a production of 4.2 million bottles, a large-ish winery. A mix of traditional and modern styles, with the highlight being a 1964 Gran Reserva that was truly [...]
First day in Rioja. Three very different wineries visited. First, Finca Allende: modern, terroir driven, with lovely wines, including the brilliant Calvario, a single-vineyard offering. Good white, too. Aurus, their top wine, a little too rich and oak-influenced for me.
Second, La Rioja Alta. One of the traditional Haro wineries, making older-styled wines. But these are [...]
Travelling again. Just for a few days.
One of the aspects of my ‘job’ (I’m embarrassed to call it that, even though I work very hard) that I most enjoy, is the ability to travel to new places, meet new people, and learn quite a bit in the process.
I’ve been to Rioja before, but just for a day. [...]
These two wines are brilliant. Rioja is a frustrating region: some great old vineyards, but average quality dreadfully low. However, like all leading wine regions, there remains a core of ambitious, talented producers willing to make quality their only goal. One of the new wave producers doing this is actually an old hand: Basilio Izquierdo, for [...]
These two vintages of Finca Allende’s white Rioja took me by surprise. I’ve not had all that many good experiences of white Rioja (this is largely because of winemaking choices, rather than the intrinsic quality of the grapes – there are some fabulous old white vines in the region), but these two wines were deeply [...]