Our tasting impressions
Right now, this wine announces its presence much more on the palate than the nose. Give it time, it's very young. But, already it is apparent that this is a fine and very interesting expression of Garnacha. Dynamic and pure flavors are vividly framed by outstanding structure and very well-behaved tannins. Garnacha wines aren't always subtle. This is and it changed the way I think about this grape.
About this wine
100% Garnacha from El Pastor vineyard (owned by Javier for 10 years) planted 70-80 years ago at 550 meters and from El Foro planted 40-60 years ago at 600 meters. Total holdings are .6 ha high density plantings in sandy soil with some clay. Yields are about 30 hl/ha.
Grapes are manually harvested early in the morning and partially de-stemmed -some whole bunches are included at the top of the tank. A cold soak maceration takes 2-4 days. Wild yeast fermentation is at a controlled temperature around 25ºC. During fermentation, he sinks the skins at least twice a day to ensure that they are in permanent contact with the must. In this way, a smooth maceration is achieved that enhances the aromas and color and promotes elegant and soft tannins. A brief post-fermentative maceration (2-3 days) precedes malolactic fermentation and subsequent maturation in 500-liter old French oak barrels for around 12 months. Garnacha does not like wood, so never new oak to produce about 2,500 bottles.
About the grape
Garnacha (Spanish for Grenache) is one of the most planted grapes in the world. The grapes are thin-skinned and late-ripening, allowing them to thrive in a variety of environments. Up until 30 years ago, it was the dominant grape in Rioja Baja - before so much was pulled up in favor of Tempranillo. It can be a workman grape but when planted in well-pedigreed, sandy soil in the proper climate and yields are kept low, it is capable of world class wine production (think Rayas).
About the vintage
2018 was a year of erratic weather conditions. In general, alcohol levels are lower than in recent vintages and the quality was good. Careful vineyard management was key to success.
On your table
Once this wine opens more, it will be well-suited to rich and bold dishes like braised duck legs.
Suggested Glassware: Grassl Cru
Javier Arizcuren is a talented architect who designs wineries. His family has a long history of growing grapes in Rioja Baja (Javier prefers this traditional reference rather than Rioja Oriental) from a village called Quel in Sierra de Yerga.
He had a vision of producing traditional Rioja varietal wines using modern day knowledge to improve old school practices with minimal intervention. He studied viticulture and oenology at the University of La Rioja and assumed responsibility for his family business in 2011, after deciding he wanted to produce his own wine, something no one in his family had done before. 2013 was his inaugural vintage.
His is the first urban cellar in Logroño, 50km from his 19ha of vineyards. He emphasizes the original Rioja grapes, which he believes are best suited to the terroir and capable of greatness in this area. His vineyards (and those he purchases from) are mostly very old and planted to Mazuelo and Garnacha. He also has some Tempranillo, Viura and Malvasía de Rioja. Production is about 12,000 bottles per year though he expects that will double in five years.
It should be apparent that Javier is a man on a mission, combining entrepreneurship with a deep commitment to preservation of traditions. He is a warm, gracious man who cares deeply about family. VDLT is pleased to support and join Javier at this seminal time in his journey and to be the first and only source for his wines in the US.