The SOMM Journal

December 2014/January 2015

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Page 113 of 119

114 { THE SOMM JOURNAL } DECEMBER/JANUARY 2014/2015 { spain } WHILE RIOJA IS A GRAND DAME IN MANY WAYS—AT 88, SHE IS THE OLDEST DOCa in Spain—she is also a coltish teenager, enjoying a burst of liberation for the first time in over a generation. Today, that relatively newfound freedom shows up in art, architecture and inspired winemaking. And Rioja is the hot laboratory for the new wave in all three. "Rioja has always been progressive—it just wasn't always allowed to be progressive. These creative genes and abilities have existed and were always present," says Ana Fabiano, author of The Wine Region of Rioja, the first comprehensive look at classic and contemporary winemaking there. It is under the careful watch of the regional DOCa Control Board that the wines of Rioja are taking more baby steps towards even more freedoms. The 1991 introduction of the cosecha designation—a new level of Guarantee of Origin without aging restrictions—allowed winemakers to produce fresher, younger wines—a refreshing dusting off of classic Rioja's leather and tobacco profiles. The tradition of using American oak barrels shifted, and now aging in French and other oak favors brighter plum, dark cherry and black raspberry flavors over spice and vanilla. It's not just the wines being transformed; the bodegas themselves are getting "Extreme Makeovers." Indeed, it seems that Rioja has become a laboratory—not only for yeast cultures and clones, but also for wineries that celebrate this newfound of expression through futuristic architecture. "Architecture is art and poetic expression," says Fabiano. "And to be an architectural bodega and experience wine, you've having a dual experience on multi-sensory levels." Perhaps the most illustrious symbol of this movement is Bodegas Ysios, architect Santiago Calatrava's 2001 cathedral to wine in Rioja Alavesa. Largely credited for Celebrated Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava designed Bodegas Ysios as a cathedral to wine. Rioja's Sierra Cantabria is in the background. RIOJA Rebels Campo Viejo winemakers Roberto Vicente and Elena Adell, and Ysios winemaker Luis Zudaire. Wines from the Campo Viejo portfolio. PHOTO: LANA BORTOLOT PHOTO: LANA BORTOLOT IN ART AND ARCHITECTURE AS WELL AS IN THE BOTTLE, SPAIN'S OLDEST DOCa SHOWS NEW EXUBERANCE by Lana Bortolot

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