The Tasting Panel magazine

October 2014

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Page 97 of 132

october 2014  /  the tasting panel  /  97 Rioja's leather and tobacco profiles were dusted off to reveal more plum, dark cherry and black raspberry flavors. Cristina Alesano, winemaker at Vinícola Riojana de Alcanadre, a co-op in Alcanadre in Rioja Alavesa, calls it a "very new style of Rioja." "Grenache, Mazuelo and Graciano have always been used for blending for their acidity, but now there's a new style that respects the fruit," she says. "Everything is made in a delicate way: It's not industrial." Even giants like Campo Viejo, Spain's second-largest producer, are looking for a kinder, gentler approach. Longtime winemaker Elena Adell has a small research plot and an experimen- tal winery within a winery where she is working with Spanish and international varieties in custom-made tanks, playing with methods like carbonic maceration to make wines that she says "keep the tradition but also innovate." Classic Yet Clean This bridge between old and new is also echoed at the 1886 boutique Bodegas y Viñedos Gómez Cruzado in Haro, straddling the border of Rioja Alavesa and Alta. Here, winemaker Juan Antonio Leza, a George Clooney look-alike, masters not only both sub- regions, but both worlds. "We are historic and we are classic, but we make clean, clean wines," he says. "You can put your finger on our wines and say it is Rioja, but they are [modern] wines." Leza works with about 100 different small plots in dif- ferent villages, as in Burgundy saying, "We know the exact style of wine we want to produce from each grape." "We are trying to put a focus on terroir and producing wines with more elegance than intensity," he says, point- ing out the Pancrudo single-vineyard/ single-village wine as an example of what Rioja can do. This conversation, giving each sub-region its own pride of place, is also part of the new Rioja. Never before did producers talk about terroir and single-vineyard expressions. Leza knows it is a work in progress. "In the conversation of fine wines, Rioja doesn't come up often," he says. "We have a special responsibility to make fine wines and communicate our philosophy." Elena Adell, Winemaker at Campo Viejo, with one of her custom-designed experi- mental fermentation tanks.

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