DOCa Rioja (aldeanuevo, alfaro)

Real Agrado was started by agricultural engineer Juan Manuel Domínguez in 1974. Since 2006, Julian Ayuga has run the show. As a former consultant, winemaker, and member of the DOC Rioja Appellation tasting committee, Julian is highly regarded, and he has mentored many young and uprising wine folk in Rioja today. At 72 years of age, he proudly claims that nobody alive has opened more bottles of Rioja than him! Challenge accepted.

Born and bred in Rioja, winemaker Chema Pangua is also responsible for viticulture within the Real Agrado project. Real means ‘true’ or ‘real’, indicative of the use of estate-owned grapes only, and the desire to reflect location in their wines. Agrado refers to the pleasure you get out of doing something you love. 

The wine comes from vineyards in the two south-eastern pueblos of Aldeanuevo and Alfaro. These lands have a distinct Mediterranean influence, and nestle in the foothills of scenic Monte Yerga. The wines are labelled Viñedos en Propiedad: 100 hectares of family-owned vineyards is divided into four vineyard areas:

  • Canterabuey: 5 hectares planted in 1975. Clay, limestone soils, superb quality old bush vines of low yielding Garnacha. Certified as a Viñedo Singular, which is a new Rioja category that highlights selected, special vineyards with unique features.
  • La Lobera: 34 hectares planted in 1992-93, with poor, stony soils planted to Viura, Tempranillo, Garnacha, Mazuelo and Graciano.
  • Las Planas: Planted in 1980 is their highest altitude vineyard on the slopes of the Yerga mountain. It’s 11 hectares of bush vine Viura exposed to cold winds in cold soils.
  • Rodiles: Planted in 1999, has 6 hectares of low production Graciano, a scarce variety in Rioja that has adapted extremely well to the alluvial clay soils of this estate.  

Real Agrado Tinto, Rioja

80% Garnacha and 20% Tempranillo from La Lobera and Canterabuey, planted in 1992 and 1975 respectively, fermented separately in stainless steel. The Garnacha is destemmed and the Tempranillo is fermented using carbonic maceration. Unoaked. TA 5.6. It’s a wine with a real south-to-north Riojan dialectic, Garnacha carrying the torch and handing it to Tempranillo to finish. It transitions from herbal Garnacha reaching skyward, and settles to some fleshy Tempranillo depth. Interplay and balance key this clever simple wine. Against ‘normal’ perceptions of the region, it’s Rioja upside down, south to north.

Vibrant purple-red, with light, fruity and spicy Garnacha in a floral-heather-herb nose. It’s fresh, with delicate raspberry and red cherry transitioning to bramble, boysenberry, violet and a touch of cola. It’s a mile from raspberry jube, but there is a really neat line of dusty raspberry powder. Just below medium weight, restrained and savoury, it has good feel, running long and low in the mouth. It’s open and easy but with the structure necessary for presence and persistence.