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The Society's White Rioja 2018

White Wine from Spain - Rioja
A classically styled white Rioja made from this famed Spanish region's classic white grapes (mostly viura with some malvasia), with a proportion aged in barrel. It is deep gold in colour with aromas that are spicy, oxidative and nutty, rather than fruity.
is no longer available
Code: SP14661

Wine characteristics

  • White Wine
  • Dry
  • Viura
  • 12.5% Alcohol
  • Oak used but not v. noticeable
  • Drinking now
  • 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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Bodega Classica

Bodega Classica is an imposing winery atop a hill in the village of Sonsierra in the sub region of Rioja Alta amid the foothills of the Toloña Mountains, a part of the great Sierra de Cantabria range that does so much to protect the Rioja region from the less desirable Atlantic influences from the north.

At this positively shiny modern facility, built in 2006, all the grapes harvested from their surrounding 70 hectares of vineyards are gravity fed into vats and presses without the need to use intrusive pumps. Even the winery’s situation atop a hill is all part of the plan as it allows for air circulation to play a natural role in the temperature control of the complex and the cellars that are built into the hill below, again for the ease of temperature control that this naturally affords. It is attention to detail in such matters that amply illustrates the desire of Bodega Classica to produce high-quality wines.

Ricardo Arambarri manages the estate under the umbrella of a larger group called Vintae, established by his father, Riojan businessman and wine-lover José Miguel Arambarri Terrero, which operates winemaking projects in six other Spanish regions. They chose the area of Sonsierra for this particular project because they believe that the poor but well drained limestone-clay soils at 500-600 metres altitude up in the foothills provide a perfect terroir for old vine tempranillo, grown on bush-vines and hand-harvested at low yields.

The winemaking is in the classic Rioja...
Bodega Classica is an imposing winery atop a hill in the village of Sonsierra in the sub region of Rioja Alta amid the foothills of the Toloña Mountains, a part of the great Sierra de Cantabria range that does so much to protect the Rioja region from the less desirable Atlantic influences from the north.

At this positively shiny modern facility, built in 2006, all the grapes harvested from their surrounding 70 hectares of vineyards are gravity fed into vats and presses without the need to use intrusive pumps. Even the winery’s situation atop a hill is all part of the plan as it allows for air circulation to play a natural role in the temperature control of the complex and the cellars that are built into the hill below, again for the ease of temperature control that this naturally affords. It is attention to detail in such matters that amply illustrates the desire of Bodega Classica to produce high-quality wines.

Ricardo Arambarri manages the estate under the umbrella of a larger group called Vintae, established by his father, Riojan businessman and wine-lover José Miguel Arambarri Terrero, which operates winemaking projects in six other Spanish regions. They chose the area of Sonsierra for this particular project because they believe that the poor but well drained limestone-clay soils at 500-600 metres altitude up in the foothills provide a perfect terroir for old vine tempranillo, grown on bush-vines and hand-harvested at low yields.

The winemaking is in the classic Rioja style culminating in time in French and American oak with the length of its stay dependant on the status of the wine, eg reserva or gran reserva. The reserva, in which the tempranillo is ably supported by graciano, sees 20 months in barrels before a further two in bottle before release. Bodega Classica release their wines under a variety of labels including Lopez de Haro and Dominum.
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Spain Vintage 2018

A good if not great vintage in Rioja, with early rains and frosts followed by drought conditions in the growing season. Fortunately, some late summer rains offered respite from the aridity and an earlier than recently normal harvest took place in very fine weather. The result is wines of balance and digestible levels of alcohol.

Ribera del Duero enjoyed a very good vintage in 2018, with wines showing harmony between freshness and fruit as alcohol levels were moderated by the cooler growing season. Yields were cruelly reduced by severe frosts and the drought, but Ribera rode them with some success.

Priorat in Catalonia had a good vintage despite the conditions, with its proximity to the moisture of the Mediterranean Sea and its many old-vines with deep roots being able to withstand the heat and dryness well.

Galicia had a good vintage too, thanks to its Atlantic Ocean influences and despite some fires in Rías Baixas that hit vineyard areas.
2018 vintage reviews
2017 vintage reviews

The Spectator

Wines of the week: Aperfect summer wine this and corking good value to boot. Made by BodegaClassica in Rioja Alta overseen by The Wine Society’s head buyer, PierreMansour, it’s a blend of...
Wines of the week: Aperfect summer wine this and corking good value to boot. Made by BodegaClassica in Rioja Alta overseen by The Wine Society’s head buyer, PierreMansour, it’s a blend of viura (mainly) and malvasia (a touch) and commendablyapproachable. Although fresh and easy-going, gentle oak-ageing of part of theblend has added texture and colour and the result is a wine of quite somestyle.
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- Jonathan Ray

Sunday Express

This is made from the region's classic white grape varieties: viura with a splash of malvasia. It's fresh and vital, with lemon and pear, and a twist of nutty richness. A versatile food wine.
This is made from the region's classic white grape varieties: viura with a splash of malvasia. It's fresh and vital, with lemon and pear, and a twist of nutty richness. A versatile food wine.
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- Jamie Goode

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