Friday Feature 3/14/2014: A Cultural Shift In Rioja

Hello and Happy Friday!

This Friday, we get a little deep and discuss Rioja and cultural shifts. But before we get into it, a little order of business:
Sheb is off to France (aka The Motherland) for a work/vacation. Therefore, we will be closed on Monday, March 17th and Monday, March 24th. Otherwise, we are open for business as usual.
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In other news, please check our FB and Twitter feed. We often post what we call “The Wine Wire”, our way of sharing new information and rare releases with our customers. for instance, are you interested in 2010 Barolo, check out our Scavino pre-sell. This is just a small example of what we do there.
Have a great week-end! And stay safe amongst the rabid beer drinkers of our city.
Craig & Sheb

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INTRODUCTION

 

“What did you discover?”

 

This is the question with which we are often met when we return from our wine adventures in Europe and beyond.

 

In September 2012, Craig traveled to Rioja for a week long series of winery visits and lectures by local experts on soil and culture.

 

What he “discovered” is that the way wine professionals (and the wineries themselves) often speak about Rioja, doesn’t make any sense.

 

It’s true that Tempranillo is the dominant variety of Rioja, as well as its three sub-zones, Rioja Alta, Rioja Alvavesa, and Rioja Baja.  It is also true that there are various styles of Rioja, often defined by the type of oak in which they are aged and the length of aging.

 

What doesn’t ring true is the non-sensical terms of “traditional” and “modern” that are thrown around, acting as a crutch for wine professionals who lump wineries together in those categories in a “Bloods and Crips” kind of way.

 

Rioja is most certainly in a state of crisis.  It really doesn’t have an identity right now.

 

The reason?

 

Culture.

 

Luís Vincente Elías Pastor, an author and lecturer on anthropology, culture and agriculture said it best.

 

“Culture generates landscape, which in turn generates a wine.”

 

When we speak about culture we aren’t talking about how many times the winemaker went to the museum, or sat in on a local opera performance.  Instead, as Elías points out, “culture is the labor of the vineyard.”

 

Vineyards in Rioja today look very different than they did 35 years ago.

 

They look different, and thus taste different because there has been a shift in the pace and consumption habits of our society.

 

A faster pace of line and the desire to make more money led to a change in vineyard spacing and trellising.

 

First the horse lent assistance, then a smaller tractor, then a big tractor, and finally, harvests became completely mechanized.  This agricultural shift drastically changed the landscape, and thus a huge change was seen in the wines.

 

I’m sure you all can sense our anxiousness regarding these changes, but there is good news, and that is what this newsletter is all about.

 

A cultural shift has begun amongst some producers, such as Telmo Rodríguez of Remelluri.

 

The Lindes de Remelluri bottlings we are highlighting today, not only are delicious wines, but they are also a learning tool, a way for the drinker to experience the difference between two terroirs.

 

For Rioja to define itself once again, it needs to do so through a cultural shift and focus that produces wines that define where they come from, rather than oak vessels and the time spent aging in them.

 

ABOUT REMELLURI

 

Remelluri was established in 1967 when Jaime Rodríguez Salis purchased the vineyards at the heart of the former estate. Since then Remelluri has been devoted to recovering the old lands of this historic site and restoring the original vineyards.

 

For the last several years Remelluri augmented their estate-grown grapes with those of their neighbors in the villages of Labastida and San Vicente de La Sonsierra. When Telmo Rodríguez returned to his family estate one of his primary goals was to transition all of the estate’s flagship wines to being comprised solely of estate-grown grapes. Not one to abandon the families of growers who relied on their relationship with Remelluri, Telmo saw the opportunity change the conversation in Rioja from one of process and aging tiers to one of place, of distinction by village. The idea was to create wines that focus on the terruños of Rioja rather than on the years spent in barrels.

 

Meaning “borders of Remelluri,” Lindes de Remelluri are a pair of wines from the villages bordering the Remelluri estate: Labastida and San Vicente. Both wines are made from a blend of Tempranillo, Garnacha and Graciano and vinified in the exact same manner. The difference between the two are the higher elevation vineyards of Labastida and the vineyards of San Vicente that are closer to the Ebro river. The higher elevation of the Labastida vineyards has created a wine that is lower in alcohol but higher in acidity and tannins.

 

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2010 Lindes de Remelluri Rioja “Viñedos de Labastida”

 

“The 2010 Lindes de Remelluri Viñedos de Labastida is produced with grapes purchased from suppliers in the village of Labastida. Telmo Rodriguez returned to Remelluri in February 2010, and the 2009 wines from external suppliers were already blended together. In 2010, he kept the different lots produced with purchased grapes separated by village. In these wines he wants to give protagonism to the grape growers and to the villages. The wines are fresh and fluid, but this is gentler and finer, softer than the one sourced from fruit grown in San Vicente, subtler and more elegant. In 2010, the grapes were harvested late, and the ripening process was slow, which resulted in very pure fruit, and a Burgundian wine with lots of freshness, great acidity and clean and pure flavors. A new delicious way for Rioja. For the quality this wine delivers I think it has a very good price. 60,000 bottles produced. 93 Points”-WA Luis Gutierrez 12/13

 

$26.99 BTL. / $323.88 CASE

 

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2010 Lindes de Remelluri Rioja “Viñedos de San Vincente”

 

“The 2010 Lindes de Remelluri Viñedos de San Vicente is a blend of Tempranillo, Garnacha, Graciano, Viura and Malvasia purchased from a number of vine growers from San Vicente de la Sonsierra. In the past these grapes were blended with the ones grown on the Remelluri estate vineyards. The 2010 is very aromatic, more fruit forward, with some grainy tannins, slightly more rustic than the one produced with grapes purchased in Labastida. The oak is perfectly folded into the nose and palate of the wine, which remains very fresh and approachable. 60,000 bottles were produced. 91 Points “-WA Luis Gutierrez 12/13

 

$26.99 BTL. / $323.88 CASE

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