Ah, the Rioja debate. Modernists vs. traditionalists. If you’ve read this blog at all for the past while you’ll know I tend toward the latter. There aren’t really any traditionalists left in Rioja besides Lopez de Heredia. However, there are those who take a more restrained approach to their winemaking practices and look for finesse and elegance over extraction and power. Bodegas de la Marquesa Valserrano fits nicely into the elegance camp.
Under The Radar Traditionalists
These guys fly under the radar considering they were founded in the 19th century and have nearly as long a history as Lopez de Heredia. Of course, they do not have the same level of dedication to hard core old-school practices as Heredia, and definitely do not age their wines nearly as long (sticking to the minimum required by regulation). However, these wines are true to the spirit of traditional Rioja.
I admit to harbouring a well developed desire to bust apart the classic traditional vs. modern debate with complications. Here we have a tradition minded producer who yet uses mostly French barriques rather than large american oak vats. In fact, Valserrano have been using barriques since their inception in the 19th century, and it was always a part of their wine making philosophy to approach Rioja with a more Bordelais-like influence. Does this make them less traditional or more? Who knows, but the wine is delicious.
A Rioja Worth Cellaring
This has all the hallmarks of great Rioja. Juicy up front cherry and strawberry fruit, great aromatic lift, saliva-inducing acidity, silky elegant texture and a wonderful spice-box character to wrap it all together.
This wine was released in 2007, but the oak influence is still quite noticeable. It is not intrusive, and one must expect oak flavours in Rioja. However, I think this could handle another few years of age before hitting its peak.
I drink very little Rioja these days. If more of the wines tasted like this, I’d be making far more room in my cellar for this famous Spanish region. This was a gift from a client. This producer may be coming to British Columbia.
Gift but I believe this is around $35-40 USD.