Bodegas Sierra Cantabria is another outstanding Rioja estate owned and operated by the Eguren family. The highlight of my visit in May, 2010 was a vertical of their two renowned single vineyard wines, Amancio and Finca El Bosque. The Finca El Bosque Vineyard is a 4 acre parcel of Tempranillo planted on gravel in 1973. The wine is put through ML in new oak and spends 18 months in new, mostly French oak. "
Sierra Cantabria El Bosque 2007
Tempranillo from Rioja, Spain
The Wine Advocate - "The 2007 Finca El Bosque is purple/black in color with a perfume of wood smoke, graphite, truffle, espresso, black cherry, and blackberry. Full-bodied, voluptuous, and already complex, it possesses 8-10 years of aging potential. Its drinking window will reach from 2018 to 2037.
Wine Spectator - "Blackberry and pomegranate flavors are accented by cocoa and cardamom in this exotic red. There's a plush yet elegant texture, supported by fine acidity and well-integrated tannins. Drink now through 2014."
Wine Enthusiast - "Rich, smoky and heady, with earthy black fruit aromas that fold in mocha and vanilla. The palate runs fairly crisp and firm for a big wine, with black cherry, spice, peppercorn and herbal flavors. Super lively, tight and showing cola and lemon peel on the woody finish. Drink from 2012-2018. "
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Sierra Cantabria Winery
Founded by Guillermo Eguren, who is a self-made "bodeguero", coming from a family tradition of vine growers. Today, the fourth generation of the Eguren family, Marcos Eguren, is the winemaker and director of the winery. Sierra Cantabria has come to the forefront of Spanish wineries in the last 15 years. This is from the extreme care that they give to their vineyards, located in the best terrain of Rioja, the savoir-faire of Marcos Eguren, and his price-conscious policies. Vineyards are located in San Vicente de la Sonsierra, one of the most famous towns in Rioja, known for the quality of its grapes. The grapes are sourced on 267 acres (108 ha), from 1,440-1,740 ft. above sea level (480-580 m), spread among the towns of San Vicente de la Sonsierra, Labastida, and Laguardia. The proportions of grapes are 91% Tempranillo, 3% Malvasia, and 6% Viura. 75% of the production comes from their own vineyards, the rest they buy from local growers. They have been doing ecologically conscious agriculture in their own vineyards for the last 12 years. Average production 0.5 t/acre (hectare is 5,000 kg). The soil is composed of Clay-lime, the best soil of Rioja. The climate is Continental, with the influence of winds from the Atlantic, but protected from more severe weather by the Sierra Cantabria Mountains View all Sierra Cantabria Wines
About RiojaView a map of Rioja wineries (ree-OH-hah) Spain makes some of the best Tempranillo-based wines in the world. Once the only DOCa (recently joined by Priorat in 2001), Rioja is divided into 3 sub-regions: Rioja Baja, Rioja Alta, Rioja Alavesa. There are 4 red varieties and 3 white varieties allowed in the Rioja DOC. Tempranillo definitely takes center stage, followed by Garnacha (Grenache), which is sometimes added for body, then Graciano and Mazuelo (Carignan). The region also makes roses. For whites, the main grape is Viura (or Macebo), producing fresh, early-drinking wines. Malvasia, the grape that was once the most planted white, is found less often.
Notable FactsThe Rioja wine trade is somewhat confusing. Grapes are typically brought to a merchant's bodega from one of the 20,000+ growers in the region, or via a cooperative. The wine is then bottled and labelled by that bodega. Rioja's Consejo Regulador keeps track of all vineyards and bodegas to make sure they are following the DOCa regulations. Put in place to ensure quality, the system also controls prices.
As with the rest of Spain, the wine label may state Crianza, Reserva or Gran Reserva, depending on barrel & bottle maturation. Crianzas are usually found within two years of the vintage and offer fresh, ripe wines. Reserva and Gran Reserva will be found a few years after the vintage, as the bodega will be aging the wines in barrel and bottle before release. Both typically show more secondary characteristics of spice and oak ageing.
The most popular red varieties of Spain include Tempranillo and Garnacha (Grenache). Whites don't garner quite as much recognition, but there are some regional varieties not to be missed, like Albarino and Verdejo. The popular red regions of Spain include Rioja, known for its outstanding wines of the Tempranillo grape; Ribera del Duero, producing high quality reds from Tempranillo and Garnacha; Galacia, with the sub-region of Rias Baixas, home to the deliciously crisp and floral Albarino grape; and Priorat, a region increasing in popularity with its high-quality cult reds. Other regions of note are Rueda, growing the Verdejo grape, La Mancha, a wide desert region, covered in the most planted white variety in the world, Airen, and Jumilla, making wines based on Monastrell (Mourvedre).
Spain's wine laws are based on the Denominacion de Origen (DO) classification system, devised in the 1930's. A four tiered system, the most basic level is Vina de Mesa (table wine) followed by Vino de la Tierra (country wine), DO and at the top DOC. Currently, only Rioja and Priorat have DOC status, while over 65 DO's scatter the country.
Most DO regions are classified and regulated by how long they age the wines. On a red wine label, one may find the terms Crianza, Reserva or Gran Reserva, denoting the wine's barrel and bottle time. Crianza is usually two years between barrel and bottle (the time in each depends on the DO and/or the winemaker), Reserva up to 4 years and Gran Reserva 5 – 6 years. Classifications of each region and wine are controlled by the region's Consejo Regulador.
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