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 had the good fortune to meet him in February 2016 and he 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 Lanzaga wine Telmo chooses to blend the Tempranillo grape with some Graciano and Garnacha
(Grenache); he grows the grapes bio-dynamically on traditional bush vines, hand picks the grapes, uses indigenous yeast and no chemicals.
This 2010 vintage is a lovely complex "new age" Rioja - a fruity wine with structure, elegance and a minerally freshness
. It also benefits hugely from being decanted or at the very least swirled as vigourously as you dare in the glass to release the beautiful aromas. The flavours also evolve as the wine opens up in the glass
and include blackberries, cranberries, cherries, dark chocolate and hints of fennel, spices and a slight wet stone minerality. There is a lovely lightness to the wine
due to the acidity but the range of complex flavours make it seem medium-bodied. Large used oak barrels are used for a minimum time to avoid the wine seeming too oaky or tannic and it works as it is the fruits that dominate the wine and its long, velvety finish
. Whilst drinking very nicely now, this elegant wine has the body, fruit and tannins to evolve further in the next few years. This is another high quality Rioja
Recommended to drink with game, duck, goose, steak and other red meats, poultry, cheese, charcuterie and paella
92 points Robert Parker Dec 2013
"... The 2010 version of Lanzaga is aromatically very pure and complex, with fine, polished tannins, some austerity and a strong personality. It develops some fennel, licorice and aniseed aromas, displaying its Mediterranean side with time, while it was truly Atlantic when uncorked. The nose is spectacular after an hour in the glass, so I’d open and decant it in advance if you are planning to drink it in the short term."
92 points Vinous Nov 2015
"Brilliant ruby. The nose delivers an array of ripe red fruit and floral scents, along with hints of allspice, pipe tobacco and smoky minerals. Juicy and focused on the palate, offering gently sweet, concentrated black raspberry and cherry-vanilla flavors that tighten up in the mid-palate. Combines power and finesse with a deft hand and finishes spicy and very long, with supple tannins building slowly and adding grip."
“Spain is probably the most dynamic wine country in Europe right now, thanks to people like Rodriguez and Eguzkiza and a younger generation that is following their example. They want to prove that Spain is not just a source for value, but a land with incredible terroirs.”
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate
“The current Telmo Rodriguez collection includes wine produced in eight different DOs, all of them fermented with native yeasts. The fact that quality ranges from excellent to outstanding is a tribute to his talent and attention to detail.”