Rioja 2021, Alegre Valgañón

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This is a blend of roughly 75% Tempranillo from the Obarenes zone, and 25% Garnacha from Cárdenas. The Garnacha lends some lovely aromatic notes—flowers and red fruit, a touch of iodine and wet stones. The palate is medium-bodied, there is some tannin, softened by the Garnacha, and it's juicy and round, and finishes with a faint bitter twist. The grapes are fermented primarily in wooden vats using at least 25% whole bunches and given a 30+ day maceration. The wine is then aged in a mix of used French barriques and demi-muid. Once again, the blend of vivid fruit and intense mouthfeel is uncommon in wines from this era.

About the Winery

A decade or so ago, traditional Rioja seemed to be on the verge of extinction, beaten into submission by the “international” winemaking trend that has swept the region for more than thirty years. But today, traditional Rioja is making a strong comeback, as connoisseurs come to realize that the sumptuous CUNE Viña Reals and Lopez Tondonias and Bosconias from the 1940s to the 1970s are among the planet’s greatest wine treasures.

Yet, it is often forgotten that what we know as “Traditional Rioja” is less than 150 years old, having been created in the wake of Phylloxera in the late 1800s. Before that, an earlier tradition flourished that featured viticulture and winemaking on a far smaller scale, allowing vine-by-vine attention to fruit quality, and the inclusion of stems during fermentation and shorter time in larger barrels.

Since 2014, the husband-wife team of Oscar Alegre and Eva Valgañón have embraced this even more ancient tradition. By working strictly with tiny lots, they are turning out headspinning reds and whites that capture the best of their beloved land’s 1,000+ year history. And their wines, informed by this ancestral wisdom, are offering something unique in today’s Rioja landscape.