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El Sacramento, Rioja 2014

Red Wine from Spain - Rioja
A stunning, single-vineyard Rioja which comes from a new property shaking up the scene in Spain. The vineyard is ancient, first planted in the 17th century, but the winemaking is modern thanks to the talent of Jesus Madrazo who left famous Contino to make El Sacramento. The 2014 fully displays the potential of this superb vineyard in Alavesa. All the grapes are hand-picked and the wine is aged in new, French oak barrels for 17 months before bottling. A beautifully crafted blend of tempranillo and 8% graciano, this is exotic and smoky, full-bodied yet elegant.
is no longer available
Code: SP13481

Wine characteristics

  • Red Wine
  • Full-bodied
  • Tempranillo
  • 14% Alcohol
  • Bouquet/flavour marked by oak
  • Now to 2026
  • 75cl
  • Cork, natural

Rioja

Rioja sits shielded in northern Spain between the mountain ranges of the Sierra de Cantabria to the north and the Sierra de la Demanda to the south. Both of these rocky ranges play their part in creating a suitable climate for the production of fine wines, shielding the region from cold winds from the Atlantic and hot winds from the Mediterranean.

Rioja is split into three sub-regions, Rioja Alavesa, Rioja Alta and Rioja Baja.

Rioja Alavesa - Bounded in the north by the craggy Sierra de la Cantabria and in the south by the Ebro river, and sitting in the foothills of the former, Rioja Alavesa feels a distinct Atlantic influence on its weather, despite the protection of the mountains. It has twice the rainfall of Rioja Baja to the south-east and enjoys cooler temperatures on average. The classic Rioja mainstay tempranillo is king here and makes up more than 80% of plantings, supported by garnacha, mazuelo (aka carignan elsewhere) and graciano for red wines, and viura, malvasia and...

Rioja sits shielded in northern Spain between the mountain ranges of the Sierra de Cantabria to the north and the Sierra de la Demanda to the south. Both of these rocky ranges play their part in creating a suitable climate for the production of fine wines, shielding the region from cold winds from the Atlantic and hot winds from the Mediterranean.

Rioja is split into three sub-regions, Rioja Alavesa, Rioja Alta and Rioja Baja.

Rioja Alavesa - Bounded in the north by the craggy Sierra de la Cantabria and in the south by the Ebro river, and sitting in the foothills of the former, Rioja Alavesa feels a distinct Atlantic influence on its weather, despite the protection of the mountains. It has twice the rainfall of Rioja Baja to the south-east and enjoys cooler temperatures on average. The classic Rioja mainstay tempranillo is king here and makes up more than 80% of plantings, supported by garnacha, mazuelo (aka carignan elsewhere) and graciano for red wines, and viura, malvasia and garnacha blanca for whites. Chalk and clay soils proliferate. Generally, the wines of Rioja Alavesa are considered the most finely balanced of Rioja reds.

Rioja Alta - Elegant reds are considered the hallmark of Alta wines. A great chunk of the major producers are based in Rioja Alta, concentrated on the town of Haro. Warmer and a bit drier than Alavesa, it also enjoys slightly hotter, more Mediterranean influenced summers and has a range of clay based soils. The reddish, iron rich clays provide a nurturing home for tempranillo while those bearing a chalkier element support the white viura well. Alluvial soils closer to the river are often home to malvasia for blending in to whites. In this area mazuelo is a regular addition to Rioja blends, providing some tannic sinew and beefing up the colour, and the reds here will often take a more significant underpinning of oak.

Rioja Baja - Most of Rioja Baja is south of the Ebro and further south and east of its neighbouring sub-regions. Summers in Rioja Baja are more often than not very warm and dry, with vineyards at lower elevations than its neighbours. Consequently soils are predominantly silt and other alluvial deposits with little chalk present, and garnacha reigns supreme among the red varieties because of its ability to deal almost effortlessly with the heat. As a rule, reds from Baja are higher in alcohol and less elegant than in Alavesa and Alta, though of course there are always exceptions and particularly so as viticulture and winemaking improves with every passing year.

RIOJA CLASSIFICATIONS AND STYLES EXPLAINED

The official Rioja classification is a guarantee of the amount of ageing a wine has undergone. Usually the best wines receive the longest maturation but this does not guarantee quality, which is why it is just as important to follow producer.

Crianza: Minimum two years (with at least 12 months in barrel)
Reserva: Minimum three years (at least 12 months in barrel)
Gran Reserva: Minimum five years (at least 24 months in barrel)

What can be confusing is that producers use different ageing techniques (for example some might use American oak, others French, others a mix of both) which will influence the style, structure and flavour of the wine. To help you find the style you like we have split the wines into the following designations.

Traditional: Fragrant, silky wines from long ageing in cask (usually American oak) and bottle; ready to drink on release.

Modern-classical: Younger, rounder wines that retain the delicious character of Rioja through cask ageing (often a mix of American and French oak) with the structure to develop in bottle.

Modern: Richer, velvety wines aged for less time in newer (usually) French oak; released earlier and may need keeping.

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El Sacramento (Viñas Leizaola)

Jesus Madrazo is a winemaker of impeccable skill and great charm, and is well known to Wine Society members for his sterling work over the years at the Contino estate founded by his father. In 2017 he left Contino, now under the ownership of CVNE, and joined the team at Viña Leizaola and making El Sacramento, a single-vineyard Rioja in the Alavesa region close to the charming hilltop town of Laguardia.

It is one of the district's best areas and El Sacramento is in itself an ancient vineyard first planted in 1680. Replanted in the 1980s it was acquired by the current owner (whose maternal family is from San Sebastian not far to the north) in 2011. The 11.5 hectares of vines are dominated by tempranillo, with graciano, garnacha (both tinta and blanca) and maturana blanca in support.

The El Sacramento is a modern style of Rioja, fully displaying the potential of this superb vineyard with Jesus at the helm, but with massive potential yet to be explored. All the grapes are hand-picked and the wine is aged in new, French oak barrels for 17 months before bottling.

Spain Vintage 2014

The 2014 vintage in Spain has generally produced decent quality and good volume. In Rioja, however, conditions were challenging: after a cool spring, the summer was dry with warm temperatures, and Rioja looked set for an excellent harvest. But high rainfall and warm temperatures in September and October 2014 provided perfect conditions for fungal disease. Selection was therefore essential to make good wines. Some producers took decisive action: for example, Bodegas Muga invested in a new optical sorter which, though costly, meant only the healthiest grapes were included in the fermentation.

2014 is therefore a year to follow producers who were prepared to forego quantity for quality; these are the bodegas we shall follow. A clearer picture will evolve once the malolactic fermentation is completed.

Ribera del Duero had a large 2014 harvest, in some cases 25% above average, so crop thinning was essential to produce good quality. Like Rioja it will be a vintage to follow producers who...
The 2014 vintage in Spain has generally produced decent quality and good volume. In Rioja, however, conditions were challenging: after a cool spring, the summer was dry with warm temperatures, and Rioja looked set for an excellent harvest. But high rainfall and warm temperatures in September and October 2014 provided perfect conditions for fungal disease. Selection was therefore essential to make good wines. Some producers took decisive action: for example, Bodegas Muga invested in a new optical sorter which, though costly, meant only the healthiest grapes were included in the fermentation.

2014 is therefore a year to follow producers who were prepared to forego quantity for quality; these are the bodegas we shall follow. A clearer picture will evolve once the malolactic fermentation is completed.

Ribera del Duero had a large 2014 harvest, in some cases 25% above average, so crop thinning was essential to produce good quality. Like Rioja it will be a vintage to follow producers who were prepared to make these sacrifices. Reports from Galicia are that the albariño vintage has proved quite tricky this year, with a reduced volume available. Late rains have affected the harvest and selection has been necessary in the vineyard; nevertheless they are pretty confident about quality. From Catalunya our key supplier, Tomàs Cusiné, is upbeat, especially about the whites, which combine flavour and freshness. In Priorat particularly, rain and hail caused worries about rot but good growers worked to overcome them and there is expectation that the reds will show lovely fruit and freshness and the ability to age well.

Further south, drought in Jumilla (home to monastrell and where The Society's Southern Spanish Red comes from) reduced yields by 20% but this dry weather has meant grapes have ripened in perfect health.
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2014 vintage reviews

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