Sierra de Tolono Rioja Tempranillo 2016
High up in the foothills of the Sierra de Toloño, in Rioja Alavesa, Sandra Bravo works in some of the oldest, and highest altitude vineyards in Rioja, growing Garnacha, Tempranillo, Viura and some Graciano. This young winemaker who worked in France, New Zealand, and Italy before coming back to her native land translates the mountainous landscape into pure and expressive wines.
She has a small winery in Villabuena de Álava, where she works with steel, anforas, and old wood. From that area she also work on various micro-plots, being able to harvest multiple varietals from micro-terroirs that together form a fresh, beautiful image of the area.
In her own words:
“I was studying Engineering and Enology in Rioja and then I was working in wineries of Bordeaux, Tuscany, New Zealand and California. When I came back to Spain I spent 7 years in Priorat. All that experience gave me an open point of view to make different wines here in Rioja (where I come from). I have to say Priorat really influenced me to make artisanal wines, and to understand that the most important is the vineyard, the vineyard with soul.
When I came back to Rioja in 2012, I decided to make wines respecting what the vineyard give and always looking for freshness. I was in love with this area in Rioja Alavesa, calcareous soil, small plots, Mediterranean herbs and always North wind with high altitude (right in the mountain that gives my name’s project: Sierra de Toloño)… it was perfect! Because all of this my wines are really mineral.
The wines are fresh and not too oaky, I try to do minimal intervention in the cellar, then I can keep wines alive into the bottle. In Rivas de Tereso (650 m altitude) I have the vineyards of Sierra de Toloño (Red and White) and two top wines: La Dula, which is planted to Garnacha and Rivas de Tereso, planted to Tempranillo."
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.