2012 Remelluri, Rioja Reserva, La Rioja Alvasa, Spain.
Telmo Rodriguez is one of the world’s most iconic winemakers and his wines from his family’s historic Remelluri Granja estate in the Rioja are some of Spain’s best, with this 2012 Reserva proving this with aplomb, this is gorgeous wine impresses from start to finish showing deep concentration and complexity on par with a top Bordeaux, think Margaux! The Remelluri property dates back to the fourteenth century, according to local legend, when monks from the Toloño monastery founded a sanctuary and farm at the site and later maintained by hermits that kept up the farm lands to provide for pilgrims that used to come visit and pray here, this included winegrowing, and the Rodriguez family continues to honor this and have worked to restore the original vineyards. The modern winery here was founded in 1967 by Jaime Rodríguez Salis, when he purchased the vineyards at the heart of the former estate and turned Remelluri into one of Rioja region’s stars, but with Telmo’s return in 2008 to family estate things have reached new heights with his talented hands in charge have turned the wines into some of the world’s best, as this Reserva clearly displays. Remelluri’s vineyards, set on rocky soils over clay are located along the slopes of the Sierra de Toloño mountains in the valleys of Valderemelluri, La Granja and Villaescusa, these are the area’s highest elevation vineyards with south-facing slopes, giving these wines ripe purity and natural acidity. The vines, which get snows in some years are protected from the prevailing Atlantic winds and dangerous frosts. Telmo’s unique approach and the micro-climate of this area gives the wines of Remelluri their soul and personality, and while the Reserva is mostly Tempranillo, Rodriguez is coy about the varietal make up of his wines, he has teased me more than once to guess what was in his wines, including his glorious Remelluri Blanc, which was inspired by his time at Jean-Louis Chave (the fabled Hermitage vigneron) that would seem to have some exotic grapes in it, I believe it has a few Rhone white grapes in it, but he didn’t confirm or deny what he had, the same has become true in the reds as he has said he was planting a variety of other things.
The Remelluri Reserva, the main wine of the winery, comes from only estate owned vines and the grapes come from 157 different plots and were hand tended and harvested with careful sorting all from the Labastida zone at between 500 to 700 meters about sea level with mainly parcels that over 20 years old, though some are 90 plus years old. These vines are set on a mix of limestone with calcareous clay and exposed bedrock and gives this Reserva its class and regal feel. The 2012 Reserva is listed at 90% Tempranillo, 5% Garnacha and 5% Graciano, or a classic Rioja make up, which shows in the wines deep color, richness and character with a dark purple/garnet color in the glass and beautiful layers of fruit including black plum, cherry, currant and vine picked berries along with floral incense, anise, tobacco spice, a touch of loam, mineral, cedar, black olive and a hint of coco. This wine is stunning without endowment, its purity and finesse doesn’t need any flashy new wood, and it gains with every sip and lingers with an aftertaste that last minutes and minutes. Telmo used stainless steel for primary fermentation employing 100% indigenous yeasts and raised this Reserva for 20 months in a combination of (large cask) foudres and barrels of various sizes, that feel and tastes like mostly well seasoned. Remelluri is a treasure and Telmo’s latest set are fantastic, especially this 2012 Reserva and I also recommend the non estate Lindes de Remelluri line too, as they come from seriously old vines and are incredible values, plus for something ultra rare, don’t overlook that Remelluri Rioja Bianco, it’s mind blowing! This Reserva makes for wonderful modern expression of Rioja and will seduce even your first growth drinking friends, it will be a sublime wine with any meal and is really an outrageously divine effort, search it out, drink now or age it for another decade, it’s that good!
($40 Est.) 95 Points, grapelive