2011 Riolanc Vendimia Seleccionada Rioja
Carmen Osada is a native Californian from Riverside (ok, she's not from the Bay Area, but we'll cut her some slack as SoCal is part of California too, we guess). Carmen is lucky in that she is a Spanish citizen, even luckier in that she married an incredibly talented winemaker and viticulturalist named Juan José Mendieta who has inherited old vines in Rioja, in the Alavesa town of Lanciego to be exact. The wine below is a delicious and authentic representation of the "maceración carbónica" style so traditional and popular in Rioja, yet so seldom seen here in the US. This is one of the best young carbonic maceration Riojas I have ever had. The wine starts with a blend of 85% tempranillo and 15% mazuelo (the same exact blend, incidentally, as our Señor de Lesmos wines). These 30-60 year old estate vines are carefully farmed by hand, on 15 hectares of calcareous clay soil in the town of Lanciego. Whole bunches of grapes are thrown into fermentation vats, with the weight of the bunches pressing on top of each other crushing the grapes below and initiating fermentation. The wine ferments only with native yeast; no yeast is added to kick start the fermentation. Accordingly, the wine's structure and honest fruit flavors certainly speak to this point. With its fresh, dark berry fruit profile, balanced acidity and pleasant tannins, this is a wine which would be delightful served at cool cellar temperature to accompany chorizo, other charcuterie, cured cheeses, you name it.