Remelluri: Rioja’s First Chateau Style Winery
July 16, 2009
Visiting Granja Nuestra Senora de Remelluri in Rioja was like strolling the grounds of an immaculate Tuscan villa. Italian cypress trees and beds of lavender line the driveway; ancient fig and olive trees surround the vineyards. Roses and wisteria climb a profusion of trellises; only a nearby castle reminds you that you’re in Spain. A sense of serenity and peace pervade the grounds, a legacy perhaps from the monks of the Monastery of Tolono who made wine here in the 15th century. At the end of the 18th century, some of these vineyards were in the hands of Manuel Quintano, the cleric who introduced the wine-making methods of the Medoc to Spain to produce the first Spanish red wines aged in the cask. In the 1960’s, the Granja was purchased by its current owners, Jaime and Amaya Rodrogiuez Salis who dedicated themselves to bringing the vineyards back to their former glory, replanting with local varieties of Tempranillo, Mazuelo, Graciano and Viura grapes and building the current bodega on the ruins of the old monastic buildings. Jaime and Amaya’s rock star winemaker son, Telmo Rodriguez cut his oenological teeth here and now has his own projects in several regions of Spain.
The vineyards are located at the foot of the Tolono mountains, at an elevation of up to 800 meters. The soil is poor, and extreme temperature fluctuations between night and day from August to the end of October make maturation slow and produce grapes of superb quality. North winds lower the risk of pests resulting from humidity. Vineyards are tended sustainably but are not certified organic. Remelluri’s goal is to obtain healthy, ripe, concentrated, low-yield grapes. They do not irrigate. They select and graft their own plants. They do not use herbicides, systemic products or chemical fertilizers. Only organic compost and manure are used, with traditional methods such as copper, sulphur and chalk as preventive treatments. One of the vineyards was planted in 1875, before the arrival of phylloxera.
THE SINGLE ESTATE WINES OF REMELLURI
Malolactic fermentation takes place for one month in large French tinas which are more than 100 years old. The estate has 80 plots with 256 microclimates, which are vinified separately. After rackings and tastings, the tinas with the best wine are selected to make Remelluri and blended. The blend is placed into small oak barricas for aging from 12 to 15 months, followed by a couple of years of bottle aging. Remelluri’s first vintage was 1971.
2004 Remelluri Rioja Tinto ($34.99) We tasted this at the winery and were blown away by the luscious fruit and full body with notes of white pepper. This powerful Rioja will keep improving over the next 4 to 5 years. “Captivating aromas of cherry, cured meat, tobacco and licorice. Lush and juicy, with fresh red and dark fruit flavors, silky tannins and slow-mounting herbal qualities. Turns sweeter on the finish, with sexy oak spices lingering seductively. This is really delicious and already complex enough to enjoy in the near term.” 93 points Stephen Tanzer
Wednesday’s New York Times wrote a fascinating, in-depth article about the wines of Ribera Sacra made from the mencia grape. A little-known region in Galicia, it is characterized by slate soils, terraced hillsides and silky wines with a wealth of minerality, sometimes reminiscent of Burgandy. We have two wines mentioned in the article: D. Ventura 2006 Vina Caneiro ($25.99) and 2007 Alodio ($17.99). To read the article, follow this link:
PICNIC WINES FOR HOT WEATHER
2007 Basa, Rueda ($11.99) A snappy blend of Verdejo, Viura and a splash of Sauvignon Blanc give this white wine a hint of fresh grassiness. Rich flavors of white plum, peach and grapefruit abound. Versatile enough to pair with cheese or spicy Asian foods, it is absolutely refreshing on a hot day.
2007 Dom Martinho rose, Estremoz ($8.99) Rothschild-Lafite acquired this estate in 1992 and since has brought the vineyards back to immaculate condition, as only the Rothschilds can do. Dom Martinho rose is fresh and clean, with vibrant strawberry-raspberry flavors. With great acidity and hints of mineral, this is an all around versatile, refreshing wine to pair with grilled seafood or just for sipping.
2008 Commanderie de la Bargemone Rose, Aix en Provence ($15.99) When Muga rosado, our favorite light rose from Spain sold out in a matter of weeks – just as summer was kicking in – we found the closest substitute, which happened to be from southern France. Light salmon colored, it has wild strawberry and nectarine flavors. Juicy, crisp and refreshing – what could be more perfect on a hot day? 89 points Stephen Tanzer
2007 Paso A Paso Tempranillo, La Mancha ($9.99) “Vivid purple. Complex aromas of cherry, anise, cracked pepper and pungent herbs; not many $10.00 wines have this much going on. Rich cherry and dark berry flavors are modestly concentrated but strikingly pure, showing impressive mineral snap. Leaves sweet blueberry and and candied licorice notes behind on the long, sappy finish.” 89 points Josh Reynolds, IWC
2007 Dehesa Gago, Toro ($17.99) Both Basa and Dehesa Gago are produced by winemaker Telmo Rodriguez, who grew up on the Remelluri estate. Consistently, the Dehesa Gago delivers ripe fruit, structure and elegance. ” Bright medium red. Spicy redcurrant and cherry aromas are complicated by fresh flowers and minerals. Light and juicy, offering refreshing raspberry and blackberry flavors and very good mineral lift. There’s a pinot-like elegance here that I find extremely appealing. Finishes brisk and persistent.” 90 points Stephen Tanzer
NEW ARRIVALS THIS WEEK
Our container from Spain arrived on Wednesday containing Stuffed Olives and paella making cookware:
Carbon steel, Enameled, and Stainless Steel Paelleras in various sizes are back in stock.
Butanos for cooking paella outdoors – All sizes are back in stock!
Round Iron Fire rings: Cook your paella on one of these rings over a fire in the backyard or at the beach.
Montegrato Stuffed Manzanilla Olives – Choose from 6 different stuffings
Salmon stuffed, Tuna stuffed, Blue Cheese, Feta, Shrimp, and Anchovy stuffed.
Saturday July 18 Live Flamenco at Casablanca Restaurant and Lounge, 113 Virginia Street, Seattle 206-448-3590 Guitar: Tyson Hussey, Vocals/dance: Esther Marion, Dance: Savannah Fuentes, Veronica Barrera 8:30 pm & 10:00 pm Tickets: http://www.brownpapertickets.com
Saturday July 25th Carmona Flamenco 8:00 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. $20.00 cover, no reservaqtions, Solstice Cafe, 4116 University Ave. N.E. More information at (206) 932-4067 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Enjoy the summer weather and hope to see you soon!
Sharon Baden and Steve Winston, Owners