the spanish aquisition

Tempranillo Red Wines

Tempranillo is Spain's primary indigenous variety, which is now being planted enthusiastically all over Australia. King Valley, Heathcote, Clare Valley, Margaret River ... While these plantings grow up, however, the gems reside in the old bush vines which proliferate in the high altitude regions of Central-Northern Spain.

Known by a different name in virtually every region - Tempranillo in Rioja, Tinto Fino in Ribera del Duero, Tinta de Toro in Toro ... and Cencibel, Ulle de Llebre and many others elsewhere. Tempranillo produces, when well grown, delicious pithy black cherry fruit, with ripe but usually gentle earthy tannins - has a meaty-earthy aspect, and usually some ripe dark spices. Can be wondrously perfumed in the mouth, in the same vein as Barolo and Burgundy.

Image courtesy of ©Jason Orton

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Palacios Remondo, D.O Rioja (Rioja Baja)

Palacios Remondo
This is the family estate of Alvaro Palacios (see also his Bierzo wines and his Priorat wines). Along with Telmo and Peter Sisseck (Pingus), Alvaro is one of the rock stars of modern Spanish wine making. Like the others, he's no super-charged sugar-and-oak freak, though. It's all about the vineyard - great old-vines, beautifully composed fruit reflecting the smells and flavours of the earth in the finished wine.
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C.V.N.E. (Cune), D.O.Ca Rioja

Founded 1879 by the Real de Asua brothers (Raimondo and Eusebio) of Bilbao, C.V.N.E (hereafter, Cune, pronounced coo-nay) has been an integral part of the Rioja region’s ascendance in the fine wine world.  Early success came as a negociant house supplying bulk wine to a France devastated by phylloxera and oidium. Committing to a fine wine vision of Rioja, the brothers soon moved away from bulk wine shipping and began purchasing and planting vineyards around Rioja Alta and employed cellar masters from Bordeaux. The company is still run by a descendant of the Real de Asua brothers, the fifth generation current CEO Victor Urrutia Ybarra. Innovation combined with tradition has seen Cune become a consistently reliable sources for high quality Rioja wine.

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Bodegas Roda, D.O Rioja (La Rioja Alta)

The team at Roda are not merely dedicated, they are detail-obsessed. Perhaps the most impressive (mahogany-scented) winery I've set foot in; everything is about the production and retention of grape quality - the modern approach to wine through viticulture is nowhere given more commitment.

All of the fruit is off vineyards in excess of 30 years (some up to 80 years old), grown organically. Fermentation in foudre, and aged in French barrels, with a minimum of oxidative handling, and neither filtered nor fined. Significantly, each vintage is made "on its merits" - work levels, style, etc are responses to vintage realities - not applications of a recipe.

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Remelluri, D.O Rioja (Rioja Alavesa)

Telmo's family property, and as close to the old-school as we're prepared to stand! Lovely earthen-perfumed and elegant, but well short of the dried out abstract plane of old. Now aged in French wood and very highly recommended on quality and value standpoints.
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Telmo Rodriguez, D.O Rioja (Rioja Alavesa)

Telmo Rodriguez Rioja 001 - ©Jason Orton

Telmo Rodriguez is a passionate opponent of the internationalisation of Spanish vineyards, and is dedicated to a way forward for Spain which combines indigenous varieties with superior viticulture and winemaking. He and his wine-making and viticulturist partner, Pablo Eguzkiza, created 'Compañía de Vinos Telmo Rodriguez' with the aim of selecting outstanding vineyards to produce the best regionally typical varieties.

The company's work in Rioja is based on the search for the soul of the region, returning to the villages where a few special plots express themselves in a single wine.

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Cuzcurrita de Rio Tiron, D.O.Ca Rioja


Half an hour out west of Haro, the hamlet of Cuzcurrita de Rio Tiron approaches the limit of La Rioja. Not really a sub-region so much as a place, but here there is a clear distinction, a local typicityof acid freshness unusual in Tempranillo. Cuzcurrita's first vintage was 2000, working 7 hectares of old vines on a hill above the 14th century castle or Castillo of Cuzcurrita del Rio Tiron. The Tiron is a remote tributary of Rio Ebro, which defines la Rioja. Here in the limits of north-western Rioja above 550m altitude, freshness is guaranteed – ripeness is marginal.

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Bertrand Sourdais, D.O. Ribera del Duero

Antidoto Tempranillo

'Antidoto' is the project of Bertrand Sourdais, who has a parallel existence running his family's Chinon property in the Loire Valley (Domaine de Pallus). Bertrand's partner in 'Antidoto' is David Hernando, a wine pro local to Soria, and working with his wife, Olga Escudero, Bertrand will soon release two wines under the 'Dominio de Es' label.

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Dominio de Pingus, D.O Ribera del Duero

Pingus was established in 1995 by Peter Sisseck, who had already made a name for himself as winemaker at Hacienda Monasterio. He located three separate plots, each containing very old vines of Tinto Fino, and established the winery. His aim was to produce "an unmistakably Spanish, terroir-driven wine... a garage wine."

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Bodegas y Vinedos Arnaldo, D.O. Ribera del Duero

Bodegas y Vinedos Arnaldo 'PSI'

PSI is the brainchild of Peter Sisseck, founder of Dominio de Pingus. The idea is to utilise some neglected, but potentially great old assets, human and vinous, of Ribera del Deuro. In short, they are the old bush-vine holdings of the senior citizens of Ribera del Duero, old peasant guys in the main, who have been growing fruit to sell off for decades. In the main, despite the great age and quality of the vineyards, the resultant material and commercially realised wines have been uninspiring. In conjunction with Pablo Rubio (winemaker for Peter at Dominio de Pingus and Quinta Sardonia), Peter has re-fashioned the viticulture of these old vines, and rejuvenated the old guys’ relationship with their beloved gnarled old plots.

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Telmo Rodriguez, D.O Ribera del Duero

Telmo Rodriguez Ribera del Duero 001 - ©Jason Orton

Ribera del Duero is all about Tinto fino or Tinto del país, which produces intense, deeply coloured, full-bodied wines. High altitude vineyards are cultivated in an austere, almost moor-like landscape with narrow valleys based on sand and limestone soils. The harshness of the climate requires heroic dedication on the part of the grape grower.

Telmo Rodriguez is the 'enfant terrible' of the Spanish wine scene, having upset the traditionalists with his implicit (and at times highly vocal) criticisms of poorly controlled oxidative handling, poor viticulture and lack of respect for terroir. Telmo's Ribera del Duero wines are entirely handmade, biologically grown and matured for 18 months in new French barriques. Although beautifully made, with great finesse and integration, these beg for at least 3 years' cellaring to allow regional perfume, earth, and all the many layers of complexity to really express.

Image courtesy of ©Jason Orton
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Cillar De Silos, D.O Ribera del Duero

Up in the Northern hill-slopes of the valley, the Aragon family have a couple of truly special patches of very gnarled old tempranillo vines. Wines of elegance and concentration, they're savoury with great earthy perfumes.

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Ébano Viñedos y Bodegas, D.O. Ribera del Duero


Ébano is a property owned by esteemed Rías Baixas producer, Valmiñor. We have been working closely with them over a number of years on developing this wine, and have been very happy with their results from 2008 onward.

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Telmo Rodriguez, D.O Toro

Telmo Rodriguez Toro 001 - ©Jason Orton

D.O. Toro is about 1.5 hours due north of Madrid and specialises in Tempranillo. Toro's soil is rich, alluvial, and the temperature is blistering in summer, which makes it famous for very boisterous, full-bodied dry reds. It will not surprise if Toro continues to evolve as a key site for those attempting to garner Parker points by following the sugar-&-oak recipe for success!

Historically, Toro is an area of ancient yet impoverished viticulture which had been largely forgotten until recently. At the end of the 1990s, Toro started to be discovered once again, mostly because the influence of nearby Ribera del Duero. Unlike Ribera del Duero, Toro can draw on a wealth of old vineyards. Compañia de Vinos Telmo Rodriguez is part of Toro's renaissance. The replanting of ungrafted vines, without American rootstocks, has allowed them to explore Tempranillo intimately in its purest expression.

Image courtesy of ©Jason Orton
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Navarro Lopez, D.O. Valdepeñas

This winery started as a simple family affair, founded in 1904 by Don Juan Megía Sánchez, and passed through the generations. In 1989 Doroteo Navarro Donado acquired the business and began transforming it into the modern, entity that it is today.

Navarro Lopez sources fruit from its own 173 hectares of vineyards, of which 150 hectares are planted to Tempranillo. Contrary to the rest of our portfolio this wine is made under the older style methods. But in saying that the oak is not too drastically pronounced and daggy.

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Telmo Rodriguez, D.O Cigales

Cigales is a small D.O. in Central Castille - the least-famous of a constellation of D.O.s around the main town of Valladolid. This important yet misunderstood region area is still largely associated with its original rosé wine, mostly sold in the north of Spain. It is a little known fact that other nearby areas, such as Ribera de Duero, produced wines of the same hue but that they never attained a similar level of popularity.

Stony slopes descending towards the Duero river and a blend of Tempranillo and Garnacha grapes are its main hallmarks. The vineyard area has strong links with the city of Valladolid, even though its development has not greatly enhanced its standing, unlike, for instance, the city vineyards of the Graves in Bordeaux. At first, Telmo and Pablo were seduced by the idea of developing a rosé wine from the area, but the quality of the raw material encouraged them to create a young and simple red, based on the traditional blend of varieties. The Viña 105 is that wine.

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Alegre y Valganon, D.O.Ca Rioja

Alegre y Valganon

Owned, grown and made by husband and wife team Oscar Alegre and Eva Valganon, La Calleja is a plot of 1.07 hectares planted 21 years ago when Eva was a little girl (she helped plant it). It is on her family's 16 hectare farm in Fonzaleche. This village of 80 people is situated in the very limit of la Rioja, way out west of Haro. It's north west of Cuzcurrita de Rio Turon, with which its wines share a sub-regional similarity. La Calleja is the last vineyard of the region as you depart towards Burgos (N232-A1).

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Viña Olabarri, D.O.Ca Rioja

Bodegas Vina Olabarri is a family-owned property, with a bodega in Haro, Rioja Alta. Founded in 1985 by Pablo Olabarri, Pablo's son Luis Olabarri now manages the winery.

Vina Olabarri's vineyards are located on the 'Bikandi' farm, near Logrono, between the villages of Fuenmayor and Navarette. The vineyards cover an area of 20 hectares, growing on terraces overlooking the Ebro River. The soil is a stony sandy loam over an alluvial substrate. Some grapes are purchased from a similar local grower.

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Biurko Gorri, bargota, rioja

Politically, part of Navarra province, Biurko Gorri are in the far north-eastern corner of appellation Rioja, on the slopes of Monte Yoar under Sierra Cantabria. The Llorens family own 15 plots otalling 40 hectares of vineyards around the village of Bargota, 18 kms from Logroño. These are organically grown vineyards lying in a rolling landscape at over 600m on poor marl soils.

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BODEGAS URBINA, Cuzcurrita del Rio Tiron, Rioja

5 generations of Urbinas have managed this property since the 1870s. Urbina make 'classically styled' Rioja (Gran Reservas and the like with regular racking and so forth) from their own vines and are a villagespecific producer, with their best wines all from the cold soils of Cuzcurrita del Rio Tiron, west of Haro in the Montes Obarenes zone.

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