The Spanish region of Rioja, known for its high quality red wines, is now producing white wines fermented in oak barrels.
By J.M. Towers
Rioja wines, protected by the oldest designation of origin in Spain (1925), are considered avant-garde, high-quality wines with a distinct personality.
And while this famous wine region north of the Iberian Peninsula has been synonymous with excellent red wines, in the last 25 years some of its wineries are producing some noteworthy white wines.
These are unique vintages because their alcoholic fermentation takes place in oak barrels, which enhances the organoleptic characteristics of the wine, creating more structured white wines with oak nuances. Furthermore, this process prolongs the longevity of the wine.
Below we present some of the best white wines fermented in oak barrels, made in a region of Spain where wine is synonymous with art.
Viña Pomal Tempranillo Blanco Reserva 2013
Winery: Bodegas Bilbaínas
Zone: Haro, Rioja
Grapes: White tempranillo 100%
Viña Pomal is the emblem of Bodegas Bilbaínas, the oldest bottling company in the autonomous community of La Rioja, and probably one of the most prestigious wineries of all appellations of origin.
This varietal wine is bright yellow with green reflections; the aroma highlights notes of lime and grapefruit, with white flowers and apricot. The palate is vibrant, floral and mineral. This is an elegant and fresh wine, a perfect complement to spicy dishes, seafood and white fish. If well preserved, it will taste fantastic until 2017.
Remírez de Ganuza Blanco 2014
Winery: Remírez de Ganuza
Zone: Samaniego, Rioja
Grapes: viura, malvasía, white garnacha, and others
The new white wine by Remirez de Ganuza is the result of many years of meticulous and demanding work. With a lemony green color, clean, bright and crystalline appearance, elegant and intense on the nose, with notes of fresh herbs, fruits and citrus.
On the palate it is tasty, with a balanced, yet delicate structure. It has a fresh finish, with saline touches, spicy notes and subtle hints of vanilla and oak. This superb wine will age well, and is ideal for sharing with blue fish dishes, aged cheeses and sushi.
Viña Tondonia Blanco Gran Reserva 1994
Winery: Bodegas López de Heredia Viña Tondonia
Zone: Haro, Rioja
Grapes: viura and malvasía
The year 1994 was rated as excellent in the Rioja region, as it provided healthy grapes in perfect ripening conditions for the production of great wines. These are the grapes used by Viña Tondonia— one of the most prestigious firms in Rioja—to create one of its jewels: the Viña Tondonia Blanco Gran Reserva 1994.
The color of this wine is almost amber-gold, with very persistent, fragrant aromas of almond, vanilla, laurel, citrus, honey and white flowers. On the palate, it is creamy, robust and dry with well-balanced acidity. Its flavor brings is reminiscent of fruit compote, nuts and vanilla from the wood of the barrel. It is a perfect accompaniment for grilled blue fish and fatty cheeses.
Innovative wines that any true enologist will enjoy. ■
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