2016 Bodegas Basilio Izquierdo – Hidalgo, Viura, Tradicion H, White Rioja D.O. Spain.
The Bodega Basilio, which was previously called Bodegas Aguila Real and had reached a certain cult status for making one of the most expensive red wines in Rioja also in partnership with famous Sherry house Hilalgo makes a 100% Viura Rioja Blanco, a very unique white wine. Basilio Izquierdo was the head winemaker at CVNE for 32 years, so you know the man has talent, he makes a red, white and rosado, the quantities are tiny and rarely seen out of Spain and his own label founded in 2007 is based out of his micro winery in Laguardia (La Rioja), where this white was made. This rare bottling was done as a customer request and little is known about it, except that this Viura was aged in three Manzanilla casks brought from Hidalgo in Sanlúcar de Barrameda in the Sherry region and that Basilio managed to develop a veil of flor for three months, so it is crazy stuff and not like any white Rioja I’ve ever tried. Viura is fairly concentrated and can be as intense as Sancerre, with Sauvignon Blanc like characteristics, which married to a dusty dry, brisk, nutty and saline layer, adds a Sherry like dimension.
This Tradicion H, I can guess the H stands for Hidalgo, famous for their zippy La Gitana Manzanilla, this not a wine that is not easily explained and or appreciated to the mainstream wine drinker, but it is invigorating and lively and gives a brisk and complex performance in the glass with less oxidative character than you’d find in a traditional Sherry, making more easy to enjoy for the less adventurous and it’s great with Tapas and salty snacks, while also with enough depth to handle more robust cuisine. There is layers of lemon/lime, gooseberry, salted rock, almond oil, dried pineapple, kumquat and quince along with a hint of orange blossom, verbena balsam and ginger/peach tea. Also, once open and warming in the glass you get wet chalk, herb and grapefruit rind. This is zingy stuff, combining texture and savory elements and as mentioned totally unique, it’s kind of kinky, like Jura meets Muscadet with a Spanish twist, it’s an aperitif style white to enjoy with salty or briny starters and or cured ham and hard sleep cheeses. This lightly gold tinted white by Basilio Izquierdo is an intriguing exercise that might not be made again, though I admit, it is much better than I thought it would be and without question well crafted, drink it over the next 3 to 5 years.
($30 Est.) 91 Points, grapelive