Alegre y Valgañón

Rioja (Sajazarra)

'Claríto' Clarete of Garnacha & Viura 2022


Claríto is a tribute to the deep traditions of Rioja, updated perhaps. ‘Back in the day’ such wines were the epitome of a Village Rioja. In little towns, a small amount of Viura would trickle in, but it would take days to fill a press, so it was ‘little-by-little’ adding whatever correctly-picked fruit came in until a batch was ready, first white then later some red.

In 2022, the Viura was picked (September 14th), de-stemmed and macerated for 3 days or so until the red was ready to pick. This was added as 100% whole bunch Garnacha atop the white. After a couple of days co-maceration, it was gently pressed to a yield of just 65%. The young Clarete must was then left to ferment spontaneously in combination of a 3,200L raw concrete vat and a 2,000L stainless tank. Working with lots of skins, the fermentation started easily and was done in 8 days. The young wine and its fine lees were then aged in gorgeous raw concrete cubes for 8 months (a portion aged in a single old 1,000 litre foudre), stirred occasionally to protect from reduction During this time, natural malolactic conversion happens to create balance and palate structure. No sulphur additions are made to the wine.

Label artwork by Leah Teschendorff.

The subtle orange look of Claríto ‘22 is matched on the nose with a line of tangerine skin. This fragrance plays beautifully around an air of ‘dust in a Rioja vineyard’, along with faded roses. Dried silage (including a hint of pickle) and sea shell smells tell of Viura grown in chalk. The nose is deep, bell-clear, like smelling the water in a well, many feet down, below the dust, the heat, the haze. Cool and still. The throat develops a deep compulsive tickle of desire to swallow. One is drawn in. In the mouth, there’s savoury roundness backlit citric with orange and golden persimmon, crabapples, brushed steel earthiness, faded florals. Steel magnolias and cherry skins in short. It’s edged by deep chalky minerality and run through with tangible energy … a circle with a line through it. Plenty of skinsy-tannin mouthfeel gives ungrippy grip, presence without tension.