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Valenciso Rioja Laderas de Cabama 2014
“If you asked me to name just one producer from Rioja that you should buy, it would be Valenciso … A small treasure in the great sea of Rioja.” Jesús Barquin one of the most influential wine critics in Spain who co authored the Spanish wine bible The Finest Wines of Rioja and Northwest Spain.
From humble beginnings, Valenciso have become a leading light amongst Rioja’s small, yet growing, band of micro, terroir-focused producers. Leaving behind excellent careers at Bodegas Palacio, Luis Valentin (Valen) and Carmen Enciso (…ciso) started Compania Bodeguera de Valenciso in 1998. The vineyards and cellar are located in Rioja Alta in Ollauri, Spain, a small village 4-km away from Haro. Only the best Tempranillo grapes are used, from mature, low yielding vineyards in the Rioja Alta. Valenciso is all about aromatic volume rather than physical weight – in the manner of French Burgundy and the greatest Riojas of the past. Ageing for the reserve takes place in French oak barriques, one-third replaced each year, while the white wine is raised in low toast Caucasian oak so as not to mark the wine.
The pair’s wines are much sought after by the top restaurants in Spain – Valenciso count the likes of Arzak and Racó de Can Fabes as key clients. Today, the wines can be found on some of the best wine lists Australia has to offer. Valenciso’s wines are complex, savoury, terroir-driven (as opposed to brand driven) Rioja, revealing Luis and Carmen’s preference for subtle, elegant and super refined wines.
Laderas de Cabama is a second red wine from Valenciso, a wine crafted from the Estate’s younger vines. Not that these Tempranillo vines are rug rats, at 35-years old they are, however, substantially younger than the vines that feed the Estate’s Valenciso Reserva. Sourced from a single-vineyard of Cabama, on the clay/limestone soils of Ollauri (Rioja Alta) this wine was initially crafted at the behest of Valenciso’s US importer, who was looking for an entry level cuvée to support the estate’s single Reserva red. It’s naturally fermented, vinified in concrete vats and aged in low toast French and Russian oak for just 12 months. Bottled unfined, it’s a juicy, structured and delicately oaked Rioja, with liquorice, cherry, and tangy red fruit supported by fine slippery tannins, and enough concentration to enable further age in bottle. Everything Luis Valentín and Carmen Enciso touch has quality written all over it: Laderas de Cabama, welcome to the club.
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