Graciano Alert

Bodegas y Viñedos Ilurce, representing 4 generations of diligent labour, is
a family company originally founded by Grandfather Amador Escudero in 1940
shortly after the Spanish Civil War ended. Their property in the Baja district, one
of 3 sub-regions of La Rioja that also includes Alta and Alavesa, has significant
plantings of old vine Graciano grapes on their 60 hectares of chalky, alluvial soil
– with most of these mature vineyards now averaging at least 40 years of age.

More typically, this highly regarded region’s wines are built around Tempranillo,
with Garnacha, Graciano and Mazuelo(Carignan) varieties incorporated in small
quantities as blending components, adding aroma, body or flavour depth. Now,
under the nervy and innovative guidance of younger Spanish vintners, Graciano
is experiencing a renaissance as an excellent varietal wine on its own, despite
its commercial liabilities of being notoriously low-yielding and mildew susceptible.

The wine trade in the La Rioja region is both storied and in a state of transition.
Apparently, the earliest mention of viticulture is preserved in a document known
as ‘Carta de población de Longares’ (Letter to the settlers of Longares) dating
to 1063 with the first legal recognition of Rioja wine bestowed in 1102 by the
King of Navarra and Aragon. In terms of its relative quality and practices, local
wine merchants have a long history of establishing Bodegas to market wines
made from intermixed fruit supplied by approx. 20,000 growers, in turn drawn
from the harvests throughout all 3 sub-regions. More recently, to better typify
its wine styles and output, Bodegas are becoming more discerning and are now
beginning to source grapes from only single zones in these allowable regions.

This week’s DéClassé recommended bottle is consistent with the latter practice
and results in an over-achieving table wine that defines exceptional value. Also,
having spent about 11 months in French Oak, it has sufficient structure to age
well in the cellar for at least another 2 – 5yrs. – meaning you won’t have to rush
through the second or third bottle that you bought after drinking the first.

Rio Madre

RIO MADRE RIOJA 2013
VINTAGES – Product #354753 | 750 mL bottle
Price $ 14.95
14.5% Alcohol/Vol.
Sugar Content Descriptor: XD

Made in: Rioja, Spain
By: Bodegas Y Vinedos Ilurce
Release Date: Jan 10, 2015

Tasting Note
Dark fruits lend notes of black cherry, blackberry, pomegranate and a pleasant
touch of licorice. Try serving this medium-bodied and slightly spicy wine with beef
tenderloin, steak frites, chorizo and lentil stew or with strong cheeses.

Tempranillo Alert

Bodegas LAN, founded in 1972, is an acronym derived from 3 provinces in the
Rioja designation of origin – Logroño (now called La Rioja), Álava and Navarra.
This winery’s picturesque 72 acre plot known as Viña lanciano, is a spectacular
horseshoe-shaped location along the meandering, vineyard-lined Ebro River. At
a higher elevation this area is also referred to as Rioja Alta, with a reputation
for producing somewhat lighter, fruit forward wines – resulting from the shorter
growing season and the character of its limestone, sandstone and alluvial soils.

Though La Rioja has ancient traditions of winemaking dating back to the period
of the Phoenicians, it was the King of Navarra and Aragon who was the first to
convey legal recognition on these indigenous wines early on in the 12th century.
Unlike many of the large producers in the region who source their grapes from
numerous independent growers with wide-ranging standards, LAN, as part of a
new generation of Spanish vintner, is producing a more distinctive flavour profile
from the closely managed harvests of its large, single vineyard.

Native to Rioja, grapes for this 100% Tempranillo varietal wine are hand-picked
and sorted, with initial fermentation begun in stainless steel tanks. The Crianza
designation attests to the young wine then being aged in a novel construction of
wooden casks (which combine American Oak staves with French Oak tops) for
12 months, followed by at least another year in the bottle. This current bottling
has 3 yrs. of cellaring at the Bodega and though it offers less complexity than a
Reserva grade, it has serious credentials for a $16.00 offering.

Unlike the perennial and immensely popular DéClassé recommendation of the
2006 thru 2009 vintages, the 2010 release has been ordered by the LCBO in
sufficient amounts so as to qualify for its ‘Vintages Essentials’ listing – happily
making it available throughout the better part of this year!

LAN

LAN CRIANZA 2010
VINTAGES – LCBO Product #166538 | 750 mL bottle
Price $ 15.95
13.5% Alcohol/Vol.
Sugar Content Descriptor: XD

Made in: Rioja, Spain
By: Bodegas Lan, S.A.
Release Date: Mar 1, 2014

Tasting Note
Layered aromas of red fruit, vanilla and spice. This medium-bodied, lively red has
a smooth balance of light tannins and alcohol. Try pairing it with grilled chicken
salad with Arugula and lemon pepper dressing or leg of lamb and pork loin with
roasted beets and goat cheese salad.