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André on Ostatu
We have had the fortune of being involved with Ostatu for eight years. I first met them as they were transitioning their winemaking philosophy from cosechero (small harvester/farmer) to bodeguero (winery/winemaker). They had recently formed a partnership with a very well known Bordeaux entity and the wines were displaying this relationship.
I remember tasting the wines ten years ago in NY at Bolo Restaurant. We were drinking the 1998; a wine I will always remember for its elegance and precision. A few years later I was trolling through Rioja and received a call from a friend saying that Ostatu was looking for a national importer for the United States. I made a detour to meet the family and taste the wines. They were modern and showed off the estate’s incredible terruño in Samaniego. I immediately agreed to pick up the wines for the United States.
Over the years we developed a great following for the wines but came to realize that the wines, although intense and full of character, did not have a clear identity. Many late night tastings in Ostatu’s barrel cellar convinced me that the wines had gained in power but had given up that initial elegance that had so enamored me in our first introduction. After many discussions, brothers Iñigo and Gonzalo came to the US to see the market for themselves and to promote their wines. I fed them great food and glorious wines while making my point: times had changed, people were interested in elegance over power. We tasted Baudry, Chave, Giacosa and other similar wines. After these tastings I asked them if this idea was possible in Rioja and their response was, “of course.”
Today this idea of elegance over power has come to fruition in the release of the 2008 Ostatu. The vintage was one where elegance prevailed with Ostatu adding their own distinct signature. All of us here are very proud of the incredible effort that the family has put together in this wine. It is in line with our new direction in Rioja: a modern wine that shows a distinct place.
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