Orben Rioja 2016
#13 Wine Spectator Top 100 of 2019
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
Orben was founded in the mid-1990s by the Anton family of Artevino fame (Izadi, Vetus, Villacreces) and a group of restaurateur-investors. Located near the village of Laguardia the estate farms 79 small vineyard plots all planted between 1945 and 1954. Due to the proximity and relative homogeneity of these sites located at 550–675 meters above sea level and on calcareous clay-limestone soils, the Anton family made the decision to create a separate estate to promote this individual terroir.
The main variety is Tempranillo with a small amount of Graciano. All the vines are head pruned and are farmed sustainably. At harvest the grapes are picked by hand and transported to the winery in small boxes, once there they are destemmed, crushed and fermented in stainless steel tanks. Aging takes place entirely in French oak barrels for between 12 and 15 months. In addition to the estate wine, that simply goes by the name Orben and which is a blend of Tempranillo with a small amount of Graciano, the estate produces Malpuesto from a single vineyard plot of ancient Tempranillo. This site gets its name from the haphazardly way the vines were planted. Most would replace this inefficient site but the Anton family, aware of the quality of the terroir have chosen to preserve and promote it.
Hailed as the star red variety in Spain’s most celebrated wine region, Tempranillo from Rioja, or simply labeled, “Rioja,” produces elegant wines with complex notes of red and black fruit, crushed rock, leather, toast and tobacco, whose best examples are fully capable of decades of improvement in the cellar.
Rioja wines are typically a blend of fruit from its three sub-regions: Rioja Alta, Rioja Alavesa and Rioja Oriental, although specific sub-region (zonas), village (municipios) and vineyard (viñedo singular) wines can now be labeled. Rioja Alta and Alavesa, at the highest elevations, are considered to be the source of the brightest, most elegant fruit, while grapes from the warmer and drier, Rioja Oriental, produce wines with deep color, great body and richness.