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International Trophy Red Spanish Varietals under £15 – Olarra, Laztana, Rioja Reserva, Spain 2010

Intense, balanced and archetypal Rioja, with warming aromas of dark cherry, spice, tobacco and berries. Vanilla and cedar form the attack on the suave palate, which has fabulous concentration, further enhanced by notes of dried herbs, burlap leather, liquorice and sumptuous red cherry fruit (14%).
Not available in the UK or USA

NAMED AFTER THE Basque word for love, Laztana is made infrequently, and was only produced in good commercial quantities in 2009 and 2010. The aim is to achieve complexity, finesse and longevity in the wine – an aim made possible, says Bodegas Olarra, by Rioja’s unique climate, soil and terrain.

Family-owned since its foundation in 1973, Olarra has expanded over the years, establishing a second Rioja winery, Bodegas Ondarre, and an operation in Castilla called Casa del Valle.

More broadly, Olarra’s aim is to make affordable wines, something the company’s scale helps it to do: Olarra says special wines like Laztana ‘could cost five times as much’ without the sharing of costs that the company’s business model delivers.

This Trophy winner is a blend of the classic Rioja grape varieties, each with a role to play: Tempranillo for its good ageing potential; Garnacha for fruitiness and as a counterbalance to the low acidity of the Tempranillo; and Graciano and Mazuelo to lend aromatic complexity and acidity, and to improve the wine’s colour intensity.

The wine is made by Javier Martinez de Salinas, who took a rather circuitous route into winemaking via his initial research into molecular biology, first looking at human immunology and later agricultural plant pathology. That led to a job working for a company specialising in winemaking products and equipment, and from there he began working as a winemaker in 1989, before joining Olarra nine years later.

Olarra is a veteran of the Decanter World Wine Awards, having won International Trophies in the past three years – for its Erudito Reserva in the 2014 and 2013 competitions, and for its Cerro Añón Crianza in 2012.

Winemaker_JavierMtzSalinas2Olarra winemaker Javier Martinez de Salinas

Tasted against

There were no other Regional Trophies tasted in this category.

wineryThe striking interior of the Rioja winery

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