While the Remelluri estate’s origins hark back over six hundred years, the Rodríguez family’s involvement started relatively recently in 1967 when Jaime Rodríguez bought the key vineyards. They lie on the high slopes of the Sierra de Toloño mountains – at a high altitude, but with a southerly exposure and protected from overly harsh weather. Significant diurnal temperature swings help the grapes to become fully ripe yet retain flavour and acidity.
Chemicals have never been used in the vineyards but the organic approach has been extended to a holistic system; far from being a monoculture, the estate has fruit groves and hedges to maintain a natural balance.
After decades spent raising the bar in Rueda, Ribero del Duero and Galicia, prodigal son Telmo Rodríguez returned to Rioja in 2010 and set about further developing the Remelluri estate. Amongst his initiatives are reexamining old training systems and evaluating the best variety for each specific plot and microclimate.
There are currently five wines in the Remelluri range:
- Remelluri Blanco
- Lindes de Remelluri ‘Viñedos de San Vicente’
- Lindes de Remelluri ‘Viñedos de Labastida’
- Remelluri Reserva
- Granja Remelluri Gran Reserva
The two Lindes wines are made from the grapes of growers in the surrounding villages. Now we turn our attention to the top wine in the stable:
Remelluri “Granje Remelluri” Gran Reserva 2012
The “Granje Remelluri” Gran Reserva is made only in the best years, and then only in very small quantities. The blend for 2012 breaks down as 70% Tempranillo, 25% Garnacha and 5% Graciano.
The vines selected for the Gran Reserva vary in age from 40 to over 90 years old and are at elevations between 480m and 705m. Vinification takes place in small wooden vats with ambient yeasts, followed by maturation for 24 months in a variety of seasoned oak vessels from 225L barriques up to 2,000L foudres. After bottling the wine is kept in Remelluri’s cellars for a further five years before release.
This is an epic, immense wine still in the early stages of youth. The nose has a cornucopia of fruit: blackberries, plums, black cherries and wild strawberries joined by cedar, exotic spice and vanilla from the oak. It is warming and powerful in the mouth, with dark fruits and vanilla, yet with elegance and freshness. No shrinking violet this, it’s a substantial wine that would be best with hearty food now or to be kept for the long haul. If I had the spare readies I’d be opening one every couple of years.