Bodega Lanzaga is Telmo's extraordinary Rioja project, through which he and his partner and friend Pablo Eguzkiza, are recreating pre-industrialised versions of the wines of Rioja. As Telmo says, 'Rioja was always a field blend,' and that's exactly what this dynamic pair are producing. Telmo's goal is to recreate the vineyards of 150 years ago, where 50 varieties would be planted together.
In a cool, dark 17th century bodega, Telmo and Pablo vinify their vineyard selections by hand, using the native yeast strains still present in their ancient winery. It is winemaking pre-phylloxera, pre-chemicals, and pre-machines.
El Velado, meaning 'the veiled one,' was the vineyard that started Telmo and Pablo's huge commitment to the Lanciego village. Just under a hectare of vines on poor soil, it is relatively warmed compared to La Estrada, although still a cool mountain site. More perfumed and lifted than its sibling, El Velado is more approachable in its youth, though it will still cellar well.
Velado is an old, beautiful vineyard; 0.92 hectares of poor soil at 620 meters. It faces south-west, and while still a cool mountain site, is relatively warm compared to Estrada, and is a Garnacha-predominant field blend with Tempranillo, some other old varieties, including whites.
Natural yeast fermentation is in open oak casks; maturation is 16 months in larger format barrels.
Telmo Rodriguez is one of Spain’s pioneer winemakers, advocating native grape varietals tied to the climates and conditions of their sites, and making world-class wines from undiscovered as well as known regions. Perhaps most impressive, while Telmo Rodriguez makes rare and limited wines of astonishing character and quality, his everyday wines have been equally praised, and widely recognized for the tremendous value they offer. Telmo studied viticulture and oenology at the University of Bordeaux and was the winemaker at his family winery in Rioja, Remelluri, and then set off on his own in the early 1990s to discover new vineyards and regions all around Spain. He now makes a range of wines in diverse viticultural areas of Spain, with an emphasis on the following: Telmo was among the first to make significant wines in Toro, Rueda, Valdeorras, Malaga, Alicante and Cigales. In these areas he uses native varietals, often grapes rediscovered such as Godello, Verdejo, Moscatel and Monastrell which do not have wide recognition. With other classically recognized varietals such Tempranillo, Garnacha and Carignan, he works with vines that are indigenous and reflect the character of their particular site. As a result, Telmo has been one of the leaders of the quality revolution with these varietals in up and coming areas such as Toro, as well as in the traditional areas of Rioja and Ribera del Duero.
This is mostly garnacha with such juicy and cool fruit. Perfumed. Pure violets. The tannins are completely resolved and beautiful. Medium body. Ultra refined. Drink now.
LUIS GUTIERREZ - WINE ADVOCATE
One of the four single-vineyard bottlings from Rioja, from a vineyard planted with a majority of Garnacha and Tempranillo, produced an unusually fine wine in 2016, even though it tends to be the more rustic of the single vineyards and has more tannins than the others. I'm talking about the 2016 El Velado, from a plot planted over 80 years ago. I find a bit of ripeness here and a little more rusticity on the palate, with grainy tannins and an earthy sensation. 1,500 bottles produced.