Tasting Notes: Rioja, presented by John Harris, 27 May 2020

Rioja Blanco 2018 López de Haro

Old vines craft the most flavourful grapes, and Lopez de Haro’s are up to 80 years old. After a vigorous selection process, only the finest berries are squeezed. The juice is aged in oak for a generous three months. The result’s brimming with ripe yellow fruits and a dusting with almonds. Blend of Viura and Malvasia. (Majestic, £7.99 on offer)

Urbina Crianza, Rioja 2011

Fully mature, elegant Rioja made very much in the traditional style. This is pale brick-red in appearance with wonderful aromas of spice and leather and a silky, soft texture. Hand-picked grapes, 95% Tempranillo, 5% Graciano and Mazuelo from 30+ year old vines. The wine spends 12 months in American oak casks and a minimum of 6 months in bottle before release. Production: 200,000 litres. Ruby colour with garnet hues, intense, mature, strawberry, vanilla nose. Well-balanced, creamy smooth, velvety texture of red berries, nuts and spice flavours with firm tannins in the background, good structure, long lasting, persistent aftertaste. (£10.95, Wine Society)

Tobelos Crianza, Rioja 2015

A stylish, exotic Rioja, full of dark fruits balanced by fine elegant tannins that carry you to a lovely, long finish. 100% Tempranillo, manually harvested from on average 30-year-old vines located at the foot of the Sierra Cantabria near the villages of Brinas, Haro and San Vicente de La Sonsierra. 100% destemming, 9 day fermentation with twice daily pumping and a total 20 day maceration period with grape skins. Aged 13 months in 60% French, 35% American and 5% central European oak casks, bottled and aged for a minimum of 12 months before release. Intense dark cherry red colour. Complex, powerful berry fruit nose with hints of vanilla, cocoa and spice. Velvety softness with great depth of ripe, rich blackberry/spicy fruit on the palate, soft tannins, outstanding nobility, good structure, with a harmonic, balanced development climaxing in an elegant, full and very persistent aftertaste. This wine goes well with food particularly Lamb shank, stews, rice, game or poultry.

Bodegas y Viñedos Tobelos, founded in 1999, is situated in the municipality of Brinas. This project came to fruition through the ambition of one man, Ricardo Reinoso, the initiator and present development director of this exciting venture. The winery, designed architecturally in a uniquely modern and minimalist style, is set into the hillside that runs down to the Río Ebro, adapting itself to the terrain but breaking away from the classic style of a winery building. The bodega, which borders the boundary of the municipality of Haro separated only by a pathway, is perched on the top of a steep slope with breathtaking views of the vineyards and a promontory of the River Ebro. It is the first bodega you arrive at on entering the denominación of Rioja from the north. Close by you can find other bodegas like Roda, Muga, Tondonia, Rioja Alta and Cune. Brinas is the doorway to La Rioja, a small village of stone buildings with heraldic portals. A truly magical and peaceful place. So we are dealing with a bodega positioned in a magnificent setting in the heart of the very best Rioja Tempranillo vineyards. There are 3 hectares of vineyards adjacent to the bodega and another 15 hectares, directly under their control, belonging to partners of the bodega. The winery was completed in 2003 and the 2002 vintage was the first to be elaborated in the new winery. Tobelos Bodegas y Viñedos is a careful project that was born with the new millennium. A singular construction of minimalist and innovative style that breaks with all the schemes of the classic and modern constructions. The winery is located on top of a hill, which offers stunning views of the vineyard, the Ebro valley and the mountains. Our philosophy is based on reflecting the typicity of the Rioja Alta area in our wines, the terroir, pampering the quality of the grapes. We count on 40 ha of Tempranillo, Garnacha, Viura and Garnacha blanco. The vineyards are located in Briñas, Labastida and San Vicente de la Sonsierra, the coolest vineyards in Rioja, producing wine with an Atlantic style. (£12.95, Wine Society)