The underground cellars of Bodegas Ollauri, along with the three historical buildings above them, are the material heritage of five centuries of winemaking history. The symbolic aspect of this heritage is, however, all the more valuable, carrying the narrative and spirit that has shaped the soul of Rioja. Walking through the kilometre-long galleries is a journey through time, with the walls whispering the tales of all those who lived for these lands and vines. This is the unique home of Conde de los Andes, where its wines – a modern reinterpretation of traditional Rioja – are cradled by lived history.
Above ground, the viticultural patrimony is equally valuable. Conde de los Andes manages a unique collection of plots along the banks of the Ebro and on the slopes of the Toloño mountains, across the municipalities of Briñas, Haro and Labastida. The company has sought the vineyards at higher altitude, surrounded by the hills’ rugged terrain, where wider amplitude range (hotter days and cooler nights) and ideal soil drainage, allow for a longer and more balanced ripening.
The vineyards are tended to by local growers, whose lives are intertwined with those of the vines – a shared history of hard work, of personal narratives rooted in the landscape of Rioja. The oldest plants, aged more than 100 years, were among the first to be planted following the phylloxera blight. The youngest sections have themselves an average age of 40 years, already offering the depth and robust elegance that have become the trademarks of Conde de los Andes’ wines.
The winery team is well aware of the privilege it is to work with fruit from such valuable vineyards and of their ultimate responsibility to interfere as little as possible with the purity and concentration of the fruit that arrives at the winery. Their work is, above all, to express Rioja in its purest essence.
Duermevela – new project, old roots
The new year sees the launch of Duermevela, a project long in the making: wines that age for extended periods, both in wood and in bottle, bringing out the full complexity of fruit hailing from plots of old vines selected for their longer vegetative cycles. The fine, mindful work in the cellar is seen simply as a guiding hand that steers the wine through time, letting its finely carved nature emerge from the power of a unique raw material. A product of careful listening, of restful wait, of serene expressiveness.
The first to be released is Duermevela Blanco 2016, a single-varietal Viura, with depth, length, texture, breadth and poise in equal measures. At a recent tasting in Madrid, award-winning sommelier Raúl Igual described it as the embodiment of ‘a great wine – an age-worthy white that shows the complexity of wood nuances and fine development, while retaining an amazing freshness.’ While it is drinking beautifully now, it has a long life ahead of it and will unveil further layers of complexity if allowed to rest longer.
Its red counterpart – Duermevela Tinto 2016 – will be released in two years, allowing it to develop its full expressiveness and textural depth. This is the essence of Duermevela: allowing time to do its work, revealing the full complexity of each layer of aroma and each structural facet.
Conde de los Andes Duermevela Blanco DOCa Rioja 2016
100% Viura from old vines, harvested by hand
Fermented and aged in French oak barrels, on the fine lees, with frequent bâtonnage.
Aged for four years in bottle prior to release. 13.5% abv
Limited edition of 1004 bottles
€85 – available Spring 2023