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Vivanco Rioja Blanco 2016
Blend: 50% Viura, 35% Tempranillo Blanco, 15% Maturana Blanca
Vivanco is dedicated to producing wines using only native grapes vinified using traditional techniques. Through extensive research and experimentation, Rafael has revived nearly extinct varietals and traditional wines that accurately reflect La Rioja’s history of winemaking.
Vivanco selects only the top 20-30% of the annual harvest exclusively cultivated by hand from their 440 hectares of estate-owned vineyards for their annual bottlings. Their holdings are located throughout Rioja Alta, thus the soils vary from ferrous clay to marl. Their portfolio of iconic wines, each with a distinct personality that reflects the land, is renowned for quality, boasting a “Top 100? accolade from Wine Spectator.
The estate is impressive showcasing both the original building and the modern facility. The new, state-of-the-art winery boasts a naturally temperature-controlled underground cellar that houses 3500 barrels. Atop sits the museum, educational center, tasting room, and restaurant frequented by thousands of visitors throughout the year.
Highly regarded for distinctive and age-worthy red wines, Rioja is Spain’s most celebrated wine region. Made up of three different sub-regions of varying elevation: Rioja Alta, Rioja Alavesa and Rioja Baja. Wines are typically a blend of fruit from all three, although single-zone wines are beginning to gain in popularity. Rioja Alta, at the highest elevation, is considered to be the source of the brightest, most elegant fruit, while grapes from the warmer and drier Rioja Baja produce wines with deep color and higher alcohol, which can add great body and richness to a blend.
Fresh and fruity Riojas labeled, Joven, (meaning young) see minimal aging before release, but more serious Rioja wines undergo multiple years in oak. Crianza and Reserva styles are aged around six months to one year in oak, and Gran Reserva at least two (plus three years in bottle), but in practice this maturation period is often quite a bit longer—up to about fifteen years.
Tempranillo provides the backbone of Rioja red wines, adding complex notes of red and black fruit, leather, toast and tobacco, while Garnacha supplies body. In smaller percentages, Graciano and Mazuelo (Carignan) often serve as “seasoning” with additional flavors and aromas. These same varieties are responsible for flavorful dry rosés.
White wines, typically balancing freshness with complexity, are made mostly from crisp, fresh Viura. Some whites are blends of Viura with aromatic Malvasia, and then barrel fermented and aged to make a more ample, richer style of white.
With hundreds of white grape varieties to choose from, winemakers have the freedom to create a virtually endless assortment of blended wines. In many European regions, strict laws are in place determining the set of varieties that may be used, but in the New World, experimentation is permitted and encouraged. Blending can be utilized to enhance balance or create complexity, lending different layers of flavors and aromas. For example, a variety that creates a soft and full-bodied wine would do well combined with one that is more fragrant and naturally high in acidity. Sometimes small amounts of a particular variety are added to boost color or aromatics. Blending can take place before or after fermentation, with the latter, more popular option giving more control to the winemaker over the final qualities of the wine.