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27 May 2011

Rioja: Bodegas Alvarez Alfaro

Pablo Alvarez Alfaro set up cellar and vineyards in Aldeanueva de Ebro in rugged Rioja country at the end of the 19th Century, as the story goes, and the winery is still family run today. They have over 60 hetares (150 acres) of their own vineyards, where all the grapes are sourced from for three different wines. Their Viña Vieja is 100% old-vine Tempranillo and aged for eight months in new French oak, and the Crianza at least one year in American and French oak. These three reds were tasted in May 2011. More info on the winery, prices and where they export to follow. I’ve used my ‘new’ scoring system of one, two or three ‘ticks’ (good, very good, fabulous); or just plain 1 to 3 here.

Rioja Crianza 2007 (80% Tempranillo + Mazuelo, Garnacha, Graciano; 13.5% alc.) – still quite coconutty/cedary on nose and palate but it’s concentrated with vibrant blueberry/plum fruit vs liquorice and pepper edges vs savoury tones; firm and tight structure, nice tannins and fresh bite, balanced and elegant too; grainy finish vs berry fruit vs dry/sweet coating. Next day: gets tastier and less oaky with airing, attractive berry and spice vs sweet/dry tannins, more savoury finish. 2
Rioja Crianza 2008 (80% Tempranillo, Mazuelo, Garnacha, Graciano; 14% alc.) – cedary and ‘inky’ tones vs rich berry fruit vs vanilla oak; quite punchy and tight at the moment, refreshing undercurrent vs dark fruit with savoury hints vs cedar and coconut; hasn’t come together yet but it’s promising. 2
Alvarez Alfaro Viña Vieja Tempranillo 2010 (14%) – ‘reductive’ herbal hints layered with a fair bit of vanilla, lively alcohol/acidity combo on the palate vs lots of berry fruit, intense and chunky finish; needs a couple of years to settle down, something a bit different. 1-2

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Header image: Château de Flandry, Limoux, Languedoc. Background: Vineyard near Terrats in Les Aspres, Roussillon.