A Rioja of quite dazzling and unrivalled, finesse, brightness and nuance. This is as refined, sophisticated and moreish as the best of Grand Cru Burgundy. A mid-deep bright colour, violet, cherry blossom and wild strawberry aromas leading to a palate that is extraordinarily intense without ever being forceful, tight-packed and focused this is brimming with notes of mineral, red berry, red cherry, fresh cut flower, mineral and crushed rocks, with that strawberry sweetness reappearing on the long, beguiling finish. Exceptional. Amancio was the name of the first Eguren who started growing grapes in 1870. The wine comes from a fine 15 hectares of vines called “La Veguilla”, 575 metres above sea level in the San Vicente region. The planting density is high and the yields extremely low. Selection is rigorous, harvesting is manual and fertilisation is organic. Only one or two bunches are produced per vine and even then a very rigorous selection is carried out.
There is building work going on at the Egurens’ in San Vicente de la Sonsierra. On a hilltop looking overlooking the town, enormous blocks of rock are being carved from the hill to create over 2kms of cool, calm tunnels. As a way of closing the circle, the very blocks coming out of the ground are being used to build the monastic, light filled winery above. Thin sheets of marble fill the windows like stained glass windows. With North South views over Rioja Alta and the Sierra Cantabrian mountain range it looks set to become quite a facility, giving the team space, a gravity fed winemaking operation, and much easier working conditions. If it helps them to make better wines than their 2010s we are in for fireworks because 2010 is a veritable classic combining deep cool power, suave tannins and an inherent freshness; Marcus Eguren believes it’s the best he can remember. San Vicente and Amancio have glorious lives ahead of them. A bottle of 82 Crianza over lunch with Miguel and Eduardo Eguren proved just how beautifully their style of wine making evolves. This is without a doubt one of the truly great Rioja estates.
Spains most famous wine growing region is seeing something of a revolution. A band of new producers are shunning the traditional methods of production in a effort to gain greater purity of fruit, less dominant oak influence, and individual terroir characteristics. The results are wines that have the ability to age and improve in bottle, that have finesse, character and real elegance.