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 32 years head winemaker at CVNE, and since 2006 in charge of his own project, Bodega Aquila Real.
Both wines are fantastic, with the white probably just pipping the red for pole position. Made in small quantities, you can get the white from www.therealwineco.co.uk, who also had the red but have now sold out. This is the future of Rioja: forget the overoaked, thin, dried out vanilla and coconut scented wines. Forget the big, dark, overoaked international wines. Step forward elegance, definition, minerality and freshness.
Bodega Aguila Real ‘B de Basilio’ Tinto 2007 Rioja
A blend of 62% Tempranillo, 32% Garnacha, 6% Graciano, 14% alcohol. Deep coloured. Smooth, sweet, pure dark cherry and raspberry fruit nose with a hint of lushness. No oak. The palate is dense but really elegant with pure, ripe red berry fruit with some refined fine-grained tannins and a bit of minerality. Ripe but well defined. 93/100
Bodega Aguila Real ‘B de Basilio’ Blanco 2008 Rioja
Sealed with a vino-lok, and in a Riesling-type bottle. This is mainly old vine Garnacha Blanc, with some Viura. Complex, taut toasty nose with mineral and pear notes. The palate is broad and quite profound with ripe, sweet pear and melon fruit with some minerally, spicy structure and depth. Beautiful marriage of ripe fruit, oak and minerality. 94/100 (£28 www.therealwineco.co.uk)