Rioja is easily Spain’s most famous and recognisable wine around the world, despite many stylistic changes throughout it’s 150 year history. This period began with wine made in the Bordeaux style, then moved to a more fruit forward, juicy style. In the early 20th century the style once again changed, wines became thinner with overpowering sweet vanilla aromas introduced with the use of American oak. The care and attention of previous years often now forgotten in place of profits and yields. The 70’s thankfully saw a return to form, with richer more complex wines with the ability to age. This was thanks in part to a new breed of winemakers, and some say, the reintroduction of more subtle French oak.
The quality and style has continued to evolve, and with it, a new breed of winemakers, are emerging. The focus on sustainability, organic “happy” grapes, caring for the land and minimal intervention are paramount in this new approach.
La Bicicletta Rioja is a great example of a new way of making wines in the Rioja D.O.Ca. It is made by a co-operative of friends led by enologists Germán R. Blanco, and Javier Colio, this is their fourth endeavour. Grapes are sourced from organically certified growers in the Navarra region, it is worth noting that this is their first project using grapes not grown by themselves.
As the cork is pulled a glorious perfume of violets, cassis and ripe black plum envelops the senses. In the glass it is a wonderfully pure expression of the grapes, a Tempranillo/Viura blend. The initial perfume continues to develop as the wine opens up, now some black cherry, brambles, and a mineral aroma, graphite? The use of concrete instead of oak for ageing the wine allows the fruit aromas to translate fully to the palate, along with a touch of cocoa, baking spices and a grounding earthy flavour. This wine is generous on the fruit without being “jammy”, the acidity is zippy and fresh and the tannins pull the wine into balance without being too tight or overpowering.
This is a great Rioja, and if this wine is anything to go by I need to try some of the other wines from this forward thinking team; as well as, of course, more Rioja!
Blog posted by Tori - Follow her on Instagram