What's New in July

The Identity of Rioja

We have been expounding on the idea that Rioja has a diversity of climates that makes it worthy of in-depth study. For years we have embarked on a project to define the various sub-zones and villages of this region and call attention to its diversity.

Rioja is one of the red wine regions of Spain that defines this country. It is not that large yet its climate and terruño vary greatly. Several major rivers run through it but the Ebro dominates the region. This river defines two banks: the right and the left. In the northern part of Rioja theses two banks are viewed generally as Rioja Alta and Rioja Alavesa respectively.

In this part of Rioja we can start noting some very interesting differences. Rioja Alta on the right bank faces north and its soils tend to be more acidic. Rioja Alavesa on the other hand tends to face south with soils that are less acidic and more fertile when close to the river. This is of course a generalization but historically the wines of Rioja Alta have always been thought of as longer lived wines than their compatriots from Alavesa.

As we continue south along the Ebro river we encounter Rioja Baja, mostly along the left bank of the river. With a much warmer climate in this sub-zone the wines here are typically softer with less edge.

This idea of looking closely at the microclimates of Rioja has been one of our interests for a long time and we began to highlight this idea in 2007 with the introduction of the Conde de Hervías from Iñigo Manso de Zuñiga. When we first met Iñigo in 2003 we began a project that has now come to fruition with the introduction of the second line from this great estate: Mencos.

Mencos is from the secondary fruit of Iñigo’s ancestral vineyards around his hometown of Torremontalvo in the heart of Rioja Alta. With Iñigo’s help we are finally able to start defining the differences that make up this great viticultural region. The first Mencos wine to be released is their young wine fermented with only indigenous yeasts in stainless steel, and then bottled without any time in oak. The nature of this fruit from this particular vineyard in the heart of Rioja Alta is very clear; it is neither masked with the excess of the past or the modern (excessive oak and oxidation).

In the coming months we will release a Crianza and a Reserva from the same estate that will continue to expand on the idea of the identity of Rioja.

Mencos 2008
The 2008 vintage produced a well ripened, elegant wine. The wine was fermented with indigenous yeasts in stainless steel tanks and then bottled unfiltered. The Mencos is ripe and round on the palate, exploding with aromas and flavors typical of this region; flowers and violets capture the essential elements. For a perfect summertime pairing try a bottle with some ribs; and don’t be shy about chilling it down a little to help beat the heat.