Alegre y Valgañón

Rioja (Sajazarra, Cardenas)

'La Calleja' Tempranillo 2019


La Calleja is a single hectare planted in 1992 by Eva with her father, when she was a little girl. 100% Tempranillo and typically yields 4500 litres (although the first vintage, 2010 produced just 3000 bottles). Its name means 'little street'. Mountainous, with lots of stone in the soil, Fonzaleche village produces light and fluid wines with excellent acid structure. Typical handling regime: lightly crushed (yielding only a half-litre per kilo of fruit), open fermentation in medium-sized old wood for 6 days without additions (total sulphur, 40mg/l).

Gentle, medium length maceration with pigeage and 30% whole bunches, ageing 14 months in 500 litre new, 1 and 2 year-old French oak. Ageing in 500 litres barrels means the wine can't be labelled as Crianza or Reserva (300 litres is the maximum size authorized for wood-aged appellates in Rioja). La Calleja is one of a tiny handful of genuine cru wines in Rioja. It is a bargain. Effectively the flagship, La Calleja was first made in 2010, went missing in 2011 and 2012, not made in 2013, and both 2014 and 2015 have been held back. The release of 2016 is much anticipated.

Fruity-floral with violets, a fresh, mineral acidity and lovely texture, La Calleja is a genuine 'voice' distinct from the me-too choir of industrial-process Rioja.