Telmo Rodriguez LZ Tempranillo 2015
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Long-term amigos and now business partners, Telmo Rodriguez and Pablo Eguzkiza have been kicking wine goals together for nearly 30 years. They are up there with Espana’s finest new wave viticulturists and winemakers. They started working together in the late 1980s at Telmo’s family Rioja estate, Remelluri, and went on to become leaders in changing conceptions of Spanish wine during the post-Franco era (one of significant recovery and re-imagining).
Trained as winemakers at University of Bordeaux, with formative experience working for some of France’s finest (Clape, Chave and co..), Telmo and Pablo are among the most thoughtful of Spain’s post-industrial organic producers, deeply committed to authenticity. Since the early 90s, they have attempted to move beyond the limits of 20th century practice; increasingly this involves deeply historical revisions. It would be a poor mistake to tag such cultural historians with any label such as ‘modern’.
La Compania started in 1992 with a modest Navarra Garnacha. That same year they bought their first parcel of land and set about exploring Spain with the intention to re-discover,re-interpret and re-invent. Over time, they found parcels to work all over Spain: however, there is no question that la Rioja is first among equals – here is Telmo and Pablo’s spiritual home and greatest commitment.
As well as Remelluri, they have three separate Rioja projects. By way of a handle, they use Telmo’s name for their wines, but are equals in every respect – beginning with intellect and passion.
Lantziego – where Mediterranean and Atlantic Rioja meet is where they make this village wine ‘LZ’. Lantziego is a tiny village north of Logroño, in the rolling foothills leading up to the limits of wine-growing under the Cantabrias. Telmo and Pablo’s holdings are a select patch-work of biodynamic vineyards at 500 to 600 metres . It is very cold and remote, at the limits of grape-ripening viability. The soils are varied: silty sand, pebbles, ferrous clay, sandstone and limestone. A typical profile is shallow ferrous clay textured with pebbles and sand over a first bedrock of sandstone, then a deeper silty-chalky clay over a second bedrock of limestone.
The vineyards are mostly planted to ancient field blends predominantly Tempranillos and Garnacha. Taken together they have natural light and shade, inherent flavour and complexity… a million miles from the industrial ooze that became the norm and has plagued La Rioja until the new wave of winemakers, such as Telmo stepped in.
Telmo and Pablo’s Lantziego Riojas are fermented in raw concrete and mature in a cool cellar built into the hill (walls and floor made of rammed Rioja earth) and vented by pristine Rioja mountain air. Winery is located adjacent to cellar (gravity fed), fruit is handpicked, wild yeast fermentation in raw concrete purpose built fermenters.
LZ is a summary of the Lantziego village vineyards, a free-range expression – its un-oaked, juicy, utterly typical of its place.
A jam-packed cranberry, plum and freshly picked herbs (rose petal florals, red lavender anyone?) is perfectly struck – fresh fruit and earth, lift and depth. The medium weight palate is perfumed, supple, harmonious – built beautifully on Telmo’s trademark natural fruit tannin-acid balance. Juicy and fine, it’s not just good and typical, nor merely delicious this is spectacular wine for the money! (14% alc)
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