DWWA 2013 International Trophies: Red Spanish Varietal Under £15
Bodegas Olarra, Erudito, Rioja Reserva, Spain 2008 (14%)
Very Spanish, with a sweet, oaky nose of minty, lifted cherries. Medium-bodied, supple palate of coconut, cigar, tomato leaf and aged leather around a dense core of cherries and strawberries with superb freshness. Amazing.
UK £14.90; C&D
Tasted against There were no other Regional Trophies in this category
Bodegas Olarra repeats last year’s International Trophy success in this category, although substituting its crianza-level Rioja with a reserva. Despite being the lone horse in this race, reaching the final stage two years in a row is an impressive feat for any producer and shows Olarra’s talent for consistently producing quality wines at a lower price point.
This is textbook, high-quality Rioja reserva, with a rare balance between the power and warmth of the fruit and the elegant spiciness created during its oak ageing. Although all four typical red varieties are in this blend (Tempranillo, Garnacha, Mazuelo/Carignan and Graciano), Tempranillo dominates, marking the whole wine an archetypal Rioja Alta: red berry fruit, soft tannins, balancing acidity and intense vanilla notes from American oak.
Bodegas Olarra was founded in 1973 with a modern business model of reliable quality and sound branding. It was one of the first bodegas to become famous because of the spectacular architecture of its winery. It soon became well known for its Y-shaped groundplan and its 111 hexagonal ‘egg-box’ domes.
Winemaking for this Trophy winner is classic: ripe grapes, extensive 18-month ageing in American oak barrels (only a proportion of them new), limited clarification, blending, no or little filtration, and further ageing in bottle before release.
Pedro Ballesteros Torres MW