Imbibe’s top picks from the Rioja 10×10 tasting

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Drinks: Drinks, Wines

Now in its fourth year, Rioja 10×10 shines a spotlight on Spain’s most famous wine region, but it’s not just Tempranillo as Imbibe found out


Alma Tobía 2016

Established in 1994 by Oscar Tobía, the winery uses only free run juice and experiments with up-to-minute techniques such as micro-oxygenation. It gained worldwide recognition when it became the first in Spain to create a barrel-fermented rosado, and while this was a delicious offering it was the barrel fermented white that caught our taste buds.

Blended with 33% Viura, 42% Sauvignon Blanc and 25% Chardonnay, the intense nose jumps out of the glass with aromas of papaya, quince, guava, mandarin and apricot. Lime comes through on the palate with toasted nut and a creamy mouthfeel courtesy of the seven-month barrel fermentation in French oak.

 £16, Milestone Wines, 01200 613122

 

Martinez Alesanco Gran Reserva 2010

Last year nearly 12 million bottles of Reserva and Gran Reserva were sold to the UK proving that demand for this traditional wine is still alive and kicking. However, customers are steadily demanding something a little different, and this offering from Martinez Alesanco is the perfect middle ground, giving a  modern twist on an old classic.

Produced during only the best years, the wine is a 50:50 blend of Tempranillo and Garnacha. The Garnacha gives a softer and more fruit-forward style, which works well alongside the structure of Tempranillo.

Harvested from 50-year-old vines, this deep garnet red has aromas of sweet strawberry, ripe black fruits, violet, cherry, vanilla, cocoa and butter. Well integrated on the palate with a smooth tannins leading to a long finish.

£24, Rodney Fletcher Vintners, 01892 724314

 

Viñedos de Aldeanueva, Fincas de Azabache Garnacha Crianza 2015

Founded in 1955 by farmers in Aldeanueva de Ebro, the cooperative now forms the largest vineyard ownership within DOCa Rioja, producing more than 13 million litres of wine annually.

This 100% Garnacha, immediately stood out from the line up with its distinctive squat and wider style bottle.

Produced from old vines located in the sun-soaked mountains of Yerga, it spends twelve months in French and American oak with a further six in the bottle.

Aromas of fruit compote, jammy blackcurrant and cinnamon, with the concentrated fruit following though on the palate. Soft, sweet tannins and well balanced acidity.

£16, Ellis Wines, 020 8744 5550

 

Beronia Mazuelo Reserva 2014

A rare sighting of the indigenous Spanish Mazuelo, which makes up only 2.1% of red wine varieties in the denomination, although it is more widely grown in Spain under its more frequently used synonyms Carignan and Cariñena.

Taking its name from the Celtic tribe ‘Berones’ that inhabited the Rioja region during the third century BC, Beronia started when a group of friends created their own gastronomic society and decided to produce local wines to enjoy with the cuisine.

This wine sees two years in barrel, instead of Reserva minimum of one, and then is left to rest in bottle for another year.

A fruity nose of cherry, bilberry and redcurrants, alongside leather, savoury herbs and spice. Soft and fruity on the palate with smooth tannins and medium length finish.

£19.99, Gonzalez Byass UK, 01707 274790

 

Ramon Bilbao Lalomba 2017

Pale peach in colour, this rosado could pass for a Provence rosé. Thankfully however, it is much more than just a copycat and delivers with its Spanish charm still intact.

Grown close to the altitude limits of the region at around 720m, the mountain viticulture adds a 25% increase on production costs in comparison to valley floor grapes.

This is a rosado that should be taken seriously and to punctuate that the company have just finished building a winery specifically for Lalomba, completed just in time to receive the 2017 vintage.

Receiving lees contact this 90% Garnacha, 10% Viura rosado has aromas of strawberry, white pepper, honeydew melon, white peach and lemon. A generously fruity palate with a complexity and well-balanced acidity that is sometimes hard to come buy in rosados.

£19.95, Enotria & Coe, 020 8961 5161

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