March 2012 Selection

Could you give a definition of Rioja wine?

March 2012 Selection

El Nómada 2009 (2 bottles)
Tobelos 2007 (2 bottles)
Phincas 2007 (2 bottles)

Normal retail price: £69.66
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El Nómada 2009 (2 bottles)

Red Crianza. Finca de la Rica Rioja, Spain Tempranillo, Graciano

Bottle: £7.87 club members / £8.94 non-members


Of the three wines that this young winery has so far produced, we believe that El Nómada is the one that mostly clearly defines their qualities, the one that best shows the excellence of the fruit that for years has been wisely chosen and bought by some of the largest wineries in the area. El Nómada comprises a selection of its finest Tempranillo grapes, plus 10% Graciano sourced from some 70 year-old vines, and should be defined as a genuine fruit-driven wine, in which the fruit has not required fancy dressing up, but just kept simple and elegant with the fantastic contribution that the French oak bestows.

Once in the glass, we can appreciate its bright dark cherry colour, a deepish shade but not especially profound, and showing garnet hues on the rim. On first attack, the nose releases aromas of caramel, but with a little aeration, the fruit begins to make its presence felt and we become aware that this wine has volume. It is powerful, full of ripe red fruit aromas, and fresh, very fresh, with balsamic notes, almost menthol-like, and with a very pleasant touch of sweetness. The fruitiness already perceived on the nose is confirmed on the palate that is flavoursome, juicy and has good structure. 2009 is the first vintage and its tannins may not seem that approachable at first which is why decanting is recommended, especially in the first few months. Citrus notes, excellent acidity and a mineral touch complete it nicely. If you intend drinking the wine now, then do decant it, so that the youthful tautness is smoothed out, letting all of its finesse come to the fore; if you prefer to keep it, then a very good evolution in bottle lies ahead. An attractively-fine wine and one with very few competitors in its price range.

  • Alcohol content: 14,0%
  • Optimum serving temperature: Between 16ºC and 17ºC
  • For drinking this year.

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Tobelos 2007 (2 bottles)

Red Crianza. Tobelos Bodegas y Viñedos Rioja, Spain Tempranillo

Bottle: £9.45 club members / £10.73 non-members


Tobelos is one of those wines that exemplifies to perfection how just the right amount of oak can make a wine balanced, showing a very pleasant sensation of fruit on the palate, and complemented by a long list of nuances that originate from its ageing, yet nothing attracts too much attention and there are no rough edges, as it is nicely rounded-off, a wine to enjoy from the first to the last glass. It could be described as somewhere between a classic and a modern Rioja, but there are so many labels and styles around at present that we prefer to call it a fine wine, a fine Tempranillo and a fine contemporary Rioja.

Tobelos displays a brilliant cherry colour with a rim that makes a gradual appearance and plenty of density. On the nose, the first aromas offer whiffs of leather, but its complexity is revealed as the wine opens up and gains intensity and volume. Even before the first sip, we are arrested by its aromas that invite us to carry on...enjoying the wafts! We discover there a whole host of notes: chocolate, liquorice, toffee...balsamic and mineral hints... and the wonderful realisation that everything is perfectly integrated. Once on the palate, we can appreciate its creaminess; it is warm, voluminous, powerful, fleshy, a rounded wine that in no way deceives. What is more, its excellent balance between sweetness and acidity is also inviting, urging another sip, and despite not being overly long, there is a predominance of fruit on the aftertaste. Quite a discovery - spurring us on to hurry back to Logroño and search out other gems like this one.

  • Alcohol content: 13,5%
  • Optimum serving temperature: Between 17ºC and 18ºC
  • Drink now or keep until 2016.

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Phincas 2007 (2 bottles)

Red Crianza. DSG Vineyards Rioja, Spain Tempranillo, Graciano, Grenache, Viura

Bottle: £13.32 club members / £15.16 non-members


Phincas comes from the vineyards that are not used for producing any of the other wines made by this bodega, wines of very limited production (Phincalali, Phincaabejera, Thousand Milks): Revilla, Tajo, Pisón, Valdegamarra and Ribartayo are vineyards located at an altitude of between 350 and 600 metres, in the southern part of the Elvillar district, planted on soils that are clayey, calcareous, ferruginous sandy and alluvial with pebbles.

Phincas is made up of 70% Tempranillo, 15% Graciano, 10% Garnacha and 5% Viura. Using white grapes in the production of red wines was quite common in some regions years ago, such as in La Rioja among others, and a practice which several winemakers, like David, are bringing back into usage.

The wine-making process takes place in dodecahedron tanks, which due to their shape create internal convention currents that help the maceration and extraction of the grape components and which also allow, once fermentation is complete, the cap to sink on its own, improving maceration. The wine ages over two winters in oak barrels, 50% of which are 400-litre and 50% are 228-litre, used for two or three wines; after nine months racking occurs, to combine together wines from the different terrains, and after 12-14 months the wine is stabilized in the dodecahedron tanks, lightly filtered and bottled.

The result: a great wine, an intense ruby-red colour and of medium to high density, with a nose packed full of ripe fruit aromas (blackcurrant), complex and concentrated; a wine that requires decanting, as it needs some air for its complexity to unfold, exuding its excellent concentration of aromas, balsamic and leather notes... It brings to mind wines from Bordeaux; taste it blind and you may be confused but definitely enthralled. This wine is sweet on the nose but spicy on the palate, with notes of cinnamon, scents of the forest (resin), herbs, liquorice, chocolate, along with smoky touches and pencil shavings; its tannins are velvety-smooth and its acidity is clearly-defined; it is fresh and silky, with well-integrated oak. Smoky traces pepper the retronasal passage, and the wine shows persistence, developing strongly with every mouthful. An extremely fine wine, offering lots of personality.

  • Alcohol content: 14,5%
  • Optimum serving temperature: Between 17ºC and 18ºC
  • Drink now or keep until 2017.

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