The Tasting Panel magazine

September 2012

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Dinastía Vivanco Chief winemaker Rafael Vivanco of Dinastía Vivanco says that what distinguishes his family's contribution to wine culture is "a commitment to sharing through our museum, foundation and wines. The bottles themselves are innovative expressions of the complexity of Rioja. The most interesting thing about Rioja is that consumers can discover new varieties, more authentic and pure, Bodegas Ontañón Ontañón winemaker Raquel Perez. Rafael Vivanco. Inset: The cellar at Vivanco is state-of-the-art. characterized more by variety and region than by barrel. I have no doubt that this is the future and even the present, not only in the United States but in other countries." The Colección Vivanco 2008 4 Varietales ($84), which is made of Tempranillo, Graciano, Garnacha and Mazuelo, reflects Rafael's love for his family's estate. It offers a dark cherry color, complex smells of blackberry and rasp- berry, and tons of red licorice, toffee and Indian spice on a velvety, long finish. Rafael's range of wines come from his family's vineyards and his main tools involve individual monitoring of maturations, use of cold grape storage, use of gravity feeds and separation of fermentations and aging by plots and varieties. "Fermentation in French oak vats may seem traditional but they also allow us to gain breadth and elegance based on primary flavors, not oxidation. That is the way forward as we constantly launch new initiatives, not only with wines but also in terms of wine culture." Opici Wines Bodegas Muriel Javier Murúa, Managing Director of Bodegas Muriel, doesn't actually believe that Rioja is about new faces at all. "I think Rioja has an identity that adapts to the palates of consumers. As a new generation's preferences come along, producers need to follow." This philosophy is evident in the 2004 Rioja Vendimia Seleccionada ($30), which offers a red-blue color, aromas of mace and black pepper and flavors of black cherry, cinnamon stick and cardamom. Bodegas Muriel is a dynamic company with tremendous flexibility due to a strategy of fast decision-making. This allows quick adaptation to rapidly changing market situations. Javier knows that Rioja's biggest strengths are at the same time its biggest weaknesses. "Quality and likeability can be good for one consumer and bad for another. The top threat for winemakers lies in producing wines that most people like." Such musings have led to the winery's first single-vineyard wine from a very special area in Elciego. "If we are persis- tent and open minded, then good ideas will always adapt to the situation." Quintessential 100 / the tasting panel / september 2012 Bodegas Ontañón is a family-owned winery in the Rioja Baja sub-region that for many generations has focused on showcasing its vineyards, which Managing Director Raquel Perez believes are its most prized possession. "We are unique because all of our fruit comes from our own vines, most of which grow at high elevations, and thus they express the special terroir of our lands." One such expression is the 2004 Rioja Reserva ($25) which brings cranberry, and dusty violets to the nose while offering red cherry, lavender and ginger on an expansive palate. Raquel believes that Rioja Baja as a whole has the potential to be a new face. "We are trying to restrain the oak in our wines, which has not necessarily been done in the past, in order to showcase terroir as well as traditional varieties such as Graciano," she says. "I believe such efforts will help launch Rioja into the next generation while still maintaining our roots." Most of Bodegas Ontañón's innovations are focused on sustainable cultivation. "We employ lucha integrada (confusion sexuelle in French) and tele-detection to help us naturally maintain healthy land. We have also begun the painstaking process of converting some of our vineyards to 100 percent certified organic farming." Gabriel Wilson Selections/USA Wine West Winemaker Javier Murúa of Bodegas Muriel. HOTO: COURTESY OF BODEGAS MURIEL. PHOTOS COURTESY OF DINASTÍA VIVANCO

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