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.
The La Estrada vineyard is just 0.6 hectares, planted at 630m asl, on poor, chalky soils. Planted in the 1940s, it is predominantly Tempranillo, with Graciano and a handful of other indigenous varieties such as Granegro and Moristel. This is, as Suckling says, Real Rioja.
La Estrada Alta (the high road) is one of the highest vineyard sites in all of Rioja, at 630+ meters on the ‘Atalaya’. Estrada is just 0.6 hectares on a pure slope of shallow soil of chalky clay. It’s an organic/biodynamic, cool, north-east facing vineyard among forest and a multitude of local herbs. La Estrada was planted in the 1940's to a bush vine field blend of Tempranillo, Graciano and many others.
The wine was fermented with natural yeast in large open oak casks, then aged 15 months in foudre. Just over 1,000 bottles made.
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.
The purity and beauty of the wine are so impressive with crushed berries and flowers. Medium to full body. Dense and gorgeous. Spice, dark fruit and asphalt, yet always long and beautiful. Real Rioja. Drink now or hold.
LUIS GUTIERREZ - WINE ADVOCATE
The 2016 La Estrada is from a northeast-facing 0.64-hectare plot, one of the highest vineyards in the village of Lanciego, at 610 meters in altitude. This vineyard was planted in the 1940s on a shallow plateau with mostly Tempranillo with a little Graciano, and the altitude provides freshness and balance. The 2016 feels very harmonious and elegant, clearly above the 2015 I tasted next to it. There is more precision and finesse here, the finest bottling of this vineyard to date. 1,880 bottles produced.