2014 Olivier Riviere "Ganko" Rioja (Previously $40)

SKU #1319015 94 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate

 I almost fell out of my chair when I smelled the 2014 Ganko. If the 2012 was voluptuous and heady, this 2014 is austere, cool, precise and chiseled. It has a slightly reductive nose with an intense stony/mineral sensation. There are floral notes, wild berries and some exotic spices. The blend has changed and it's now a 50/50 blend of Garnacha and Mazuelo, which provides acidity and a vertical sensation like no other vintage of Ganko in the past. This is all from the village of Cárdenas in the Alto Najerilla in Rioja Alta, from high altitude, old vines on sandy soils in a zone where only a bunch of small plots remain because it's hard to work. Rivière believes in this area to the point that he has purchased land to plant vineyards on some of the slopes. More than acidity, there is a sensation of freshness, which for me seems to come in good part from the soil. I'm really impressed. I'd love to see this wine in ten years' time...Pretty amazing value. (LG)  (8/2016)

Jancis Robinson

 Garnacha, Mazuelo. Very old vines from Cardenas village within Rioja Alta. Old vines and very limited yields. Long but delicate maceration during fermentation. 4,000 bottles produced. Great delicacy and deep nose, beautifully light-hearted showing ripe cherries, violets, touch of dry herbs and great class. Precisely delineated with delicate fruit balancing the velvety tannins. Soft, light and in some way burgundian. A new approach and interpretation of the region that I particularly like. It seems that the nose will gain complexity with age. 17.5/20 Points (FC)  (2/2017)

K&L Notes

Olivier Riviere is part of the talented next generation of Rioja, a member of the "Rioja n' Roll" collective, and definitely someone who is making some of Rioja's most interesting wines these days. A blend of Garnacha and Mazuelo sourced from Cardenas (Rioja Alta), in iron rich red soil over sandstone. The wine is fermented with whole clusters and then spends 16 months in foudre. Very fresh and mineral, fragrant, high toned stuff!

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Staff Image By: John Majeski | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: 9/27/2017 | Send Email
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Funny, when I saw this wine's stark black and white label my brain ran through reels of old Japanese monster films from the 1950s, those fabulous Toho Production classics like Rodan vs. Gamera or Ganko Fights Godzilla. OK, I know "Ganko" didn't really fight Godzilla, but it turns out the word means "stubborn," a nickname that winemaker Olivier Riviere acquired from his clever Japanese importer. Olivier inhabits his own skin, and like Ghidra or Godzilla, is not one to waver, but fortunately his singular Rioja wines are anything but abrasive or indelicate. Grown at altitude on very old vines, the result is a wine of veritas and virtue, brimful of lustrous, high toned fruit--pomegranates, red berries, minerals and lovely potpourri spice. Hardly a kaiju behemoth, but all the better for that! And yes, the ending is guaranteed not to disappoint. Astonishing performance from a cast, er, bottle of one...

Staff Image By: Andrew Whiteley | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: 9/6/2017 | Send Email
Truly a remarkable and unique Rioja that deserves your attention. Especially if you're up for trying something unexpected and wonderful. Ultra bright and fresh, this Rioja is made up of Granacha and Mazuelo, but not a drop of Tempranillo. It has incredible aromatics and a lively floral quality that you are more likely to find in Burgundy or the Willamette Valley. The acid is tremendously refreshing, but balanced perfectly with the ripe red fruits. The tannins are fine and the finish long. This is a special wine that is extremely versatile in food pairings from light fish to hearty chorizo paella and some of your favorite vegetable dishes to boot.

Staff Image By: Chantel Carroll | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: 9/5/2017 | Send Email
The Ganko is made up of a an equal bend of Mazuelo and Garnacha. As much as I adore the Tempranillo based Rioja that I am used to drinking, I was super excited to taste such a different expression of Rioja. These old vine grapes grow in the high elevation, this allows for them to ripen slowly. This wine has a beautiful nose, black fruits, mocha, dried violets, and exotic spices. It has great acidity, and nice structure. I think it would drink nicely with chorizo or other charcuterie, it would also do well to rest in the bottle for a while and drink on a special occasion.

Staff Image By: Morgan Laurie | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: 9/5/2017 | Send Email
"Pretty" is a descriptive term I use, and know I should refrain from, but when I come across a wine like Olivier Riviere's Ganko, it's one of the first things that comes to mind. Aromatic, bright, lifted red fruit, fresh, herbaceous...just pretty. It's elegant, light and delicate but still carries some structure. It's refined and drinks just like the 1er Cru village Rioja Olivier considers this to be.

Staff Image By: Joe Manekin | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: 9/5/2017 | Send Email
Original, category defying wines are difficult to place. This is definitely the case for the most distinctive Spanish red I have tasted year to date, the 2014 Olivier Riviere "Ganko." Unlike our other featured Riojas, this one has no tempranillo whatsoever, instead consisting of Garnacha and Mazuelo grown in high elevation vineyards, kind of way out in the sticks on the southern, Sierra de la Demanda side of Rioja Alta. Olivier brings his Beaune training and French sensibility to this wine, which comes across as incredibly bright and perfumed, fresh and high toned but structured and serious as well. In a wine world where Barbaresco meets a fresher style of southern Rhone wine, you will find this wholly original, subtly spicy, intense, freshly fruited Rioja. It is beautiful now, though likely to improve for at least another 7-8 years. For the Rioja completist or simply anyone who is curious, I think you will find a lot to like in this beauty. Highly recommended.

Additional Information:



- A very important red grape varietal that's native to Northern Spain, grown across the north and central regions of the country. Low in acid and alcohol, with subtle strawberry, leather and tobacco notes, the grape responds well to oak aging and plays particularly well with others. Tempranillo is an important component, when combined with Garnacha, Mazuelo, Viura and Graciano, of Rioja, with the best examples coming for the cooler, higher-elevation regions like Rioja Alta and Rioja Alavesa. It is also grown in significant quantities in the Ribera del Duero where it is called Tinto Fino and Penèdes where it is called Ull de Llebre o Ojo de Llebre. Tempranillo hasn't gained a particularly strong foothold outside of Spain, achieving some success under the name Tinto Roriz in Portugal. There it is used as a component of Port and in the table wines of the Ribera del Duero and the Dão.


- With more land under vine than any other country in the world, Spain is the great sleeping wine giant. In recent years, a great deal of money and passion has been poured in the burgeoning Spanish wine industry, helping to improve quality among its vast array of wines from sparkling Cava to Sherry to Rioja Gran Reserva. The most important red-wine-producing regions are Rioja, Ribera del Duero and Navarra in the north and Priorat and Penedes in the northeast.