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Lupier has quickly built a reputation as one of Spain’s leading garnacha specialists. This stunning, beautifully structured and layered garnacha has a level of complexity that comes about from very old vines (dating back to 1903). Decant.
Product Code: SP8601
"Emm, wish I'd read about the two hour decant. I popped and poured, it was very hard and rustic. About three hours later, it was better. Still not sure it's my style. It became funky and sweet, with that hard, rustic edge never disappearing and I didn't get the complexity I thought I would from such old vines. Not a rebuy."
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Domaines Lupier is an estate where passion rules. Enrique Basarte and Elisa Úcar bubble with enthusiasm and they love everything to do with managing their vineyards where they have worked hard to understand the terroir, their unique amalgamation of influences on the vines and which vines work best where. Enrique has worked at bodegas all over Spain and has an academic background in oenology, while Elisa has worked in the wine trade for more than a decade with a business MBA behind her. Their particular, and shared, passion is garnacha, the only grape, with a variety of clones in 27 parcels of bush vines around Saint Martín de Unx in Navarra. They sought out old vines and theirs are on average 75 years of age, with some planted in 1903. All are planted at between 400 and 750 metres altitude on calcareous clay of various types where snow-capped mountains loom over the vineyards and where as well as altitude an Atlantic influence has a say in the climate, bringing a further moderating influence on temperatures through the season so that the grapes ripen with freshness as well as concentration. Enrique and Elisa call it mountain viticulture with good reason. All the work is done in a converted 19th-century manor house that the couple bought and renovated, creating a small cellar to be close to the vines. Stainless-steel vats are used for fermentation before the must is left to macerate for 20-25 days or so, gently extracting more colour, flavour and structure. The wines are then aged in small French oak barrels for 14 months. They make only two wines, both red and made from 100% garnacha, and their aim is that the wines should balance finesse and structure and speak loudly of the terroir. They have succeeded.
Navarra’s ancient winemaking heritage has not left it looking backwards and today the region has a well-earned reputation for modernity, innovation and improving quality. Like most Spanish wine regions it possesses a state funded research facility, the Estacion de Viticultura y Enologia de Navarra, that has been particularly influential, proactive and successful in its endeavours to advise and assist the growers of the region. Navarra lies to the north-east of Rioja on the pilgrim route to Santiago di Compostela in Galicia, a fact that has been instrumental in the growth and reputation of the regions vineyards and wines as pilgrims slaked their thirst as they passed through. Despite this, and though a part of the Rioja vineyard area straddles the River Ebro and occupies a small piece of Navarra, the wines of Navarra itself have for many years been somewhat in the shadow of their more famous neighbour and have not, until recently, enjoyed the same level of investment and international focus. The region today is divided into five main vineyard areas. In the cooler, wetter north, closer to the Pyrenees where the vineyards are prone to westerly winds and subject to the most Atlantic influence, are Tierra Estella and Valdizarbe. Autumn temperatures here are cool enough to mean that Bordeaux varieties like cabernet sauvignon planted there are often harvested later than they are in Bordeaux itself. Site selection for vineyards is particularly important here to ensure ripening and there are many aspects and microclimates to consider.Closer to the Ebro, and slightly warmer than the areas further north, are Baja Montana and Ribera Alta. Baja Montana, as the name suggests, is hillier than Ribera Alta, and therefore a little cooler and it is from here that many rosado (rosé) wines emerge. Ribera Alta is warmer and flatter, more often planted with garnacha on alluvial soils. The influence of the Mediterranean has more impact here.Warmer and drier still, though a little protected from the influence of the Mediterranean thanks to the Sierra del Moncayo mountains, Ribera Baja is the most southerly of the Navarra wine producing areas. Soils here can be lighter and sandier than elsewhere in the region, with some sites bearing similarities to the soils of Chateauneuf-du-Pape in the Rhône. Though there are differences in soils in some sub-regions, there is an unusual uniformity of loam and gravel over a clay-limestone base across Navarra as a whole, with most to be found in the north. Climatic variations over the region mean that many producers blend wines from across all areas to achieve a house style in their more generic wines. Garnacha was traditionally the most widely planted variety but in recent years it has been caught and overtaken by tempranillo, with the expansion of cabernet sauvignon, merlot and chardonnay plantings also impacting its share. Red wines, often blends though there are many fine single-varietals too, are the dominant style, but rosado is widely produced and enjoys considerable popularity. Whites form only 10% or so of production, usually viura (macabeo) but with chardonnay coming up on the rails, particularly from the cooler northern areas, and sweet muscats maintaining an increasingly high-quality toe hold. Though garnacha has been overtaken by tempranillo in plantings, it still makes some of the best and most distinctive wines of Navarra as many winemakers reappraise its inherent qualities, where it is best planted and how to make it. Co-operatives are an important element in Navarran production, but there are also many independent family owned companies establishing an excellent reputation for their wines and their forward-thinking approach to making them.
Average temperatures in Rioja and Ribera del Duero in 2009 were actually higher than for the infamous heatwave year of 2003 and it was warmer than the delightful 2010 vintage. The saving grace was rainfall at pertinent moments, bringing respite to the vines and giving the fruit some timely refreshment. Both Rioja and Ribera therefore enjoyed good vintages with many quality wines made in both, though acidity is a little down. The best show their pedigree but there may be some wines that are a little out of balance. In Navarra it was a good vintage with later ripening grapes like cabernet doing best amongst the red, though all were good. Whites fared less well. Catalonia also enjoyed a good vintage despite heat spikes as milder temperatures came along at the end of August and welcome rainfall in September freshened up the vines. Galicia in the north-west had a truly excellent vintage as their cooler, coastal climate helped to provide cool nights after hot, sunny days.In the south the vintage was complicated by rains at inopportune moments after the heat of the summer and early pickling was required around Alicante. La Mancha saw an early harvest but despite this alcohol levels were generally high and volumes were down.
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