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Rioja is one of two wine regions with Spain's highest qualification level, DOC or DoCa, the other region being Priorat. There is so much Rioja on the UK market and much of it over-priced, overly sweet and over-oaked because that became the trend from the turn of the century. But there is a danger of the DOC qualification being devalued.
There is now a new wave of winemakers fighting back against the commercial style of Rioja and Telmo Rodriguez is at the forefront; I have had the good fortune to meet him a couple of times and he has told me that Rioja should not be a "recipe", that there is fortunately no longer one style of Rioja as modern winemakers like him focus on the fruit, the 'terroir' and more traditional methods. Telmo has been described by Robert Parker's Wine Advocate as "Rioja's number one Terroirist".
In this wine from old vines on the Remelluri estate owned by Telmo & his sister Amaia, Tempranillo grape is blended with a little Graciano and Garnacha (Grenache); minimal intervention is practised and the wine is certified organic. The 2012 vintage was not as hot as the previous year but the wine from this vintage is still displaying lots of fruit. In addition the cooler climate has helped combine the earthy red fruit with spice and savouriness - and with amazing elegance. It's a complex Rioja Reserva and a refreshing acidity cuts through the richness making it very drinkable indeed.
Recommended to drink with game, duck, goose, steak and other red meats, poultry, cheese, charcuterie and paella
"The nose is very pronounced, displaying typical Rioja aromas of ripe strawberries, dark plums, cream, vanilla and hints of sweet liquorice. On the palate it is elegant, with well-integrated alcohol, fine-grained tannins and good flavour concentration."
93 points RobertParker.com Feb 2018
"The flagship 2012 Reserva was cropped from a year when they started seeing the results of improvements made to the work in the vineyards that started in 2010. 2012 was not as warm and ripe as 2011, and the wine comes through as a nice balance between power and elegance, with some earthiness, good fruit and a fine palate."
91 points & 1 of the 100 Wines of 2020 Decanter Oct 2020"Subtle & complex on the nose with dark fruits, a hint of menthol and some damson fruit characters. A serious, brooding wine which has plenty in reserve"
A fabulous organic Rioja Reserva from the Remelluri winery, part owned by Telmo Rodriguez who was described by Tim Atkins MW in Decanter as one of his top 10 wine producers in the region. It has a silky smooth texture; a rich and yet very elegant Rioja full of spice and lush fruit