From: Rioja Alavesa, Spain
Taste: On the nose, it presents a vibrant bouquet of ripe red fruits, interlaced with subtle hints of vanilla and spice, a nod to its aging in French oak barrels. The palate is greeted with the lush flavors of cherry and blackberry, balanced by a refined acidity and smooth tannins that lead to a long, elegant finish. This shows the hallmark of the Rioja Alavesa's capability to produce wines accessible in their youth and capable of graceful aging.
Pairing: For a classic pairing, consider rich meats like lamb or beef, where the wine's robust profile complements the savory depth of the meat. It also pairs splendidly with aged cheeses, offering a counterbalance to their intensity with its fruit-forward character. For those inclined towards plant-based cuisine, dishes featuring earthy mushrooms or hearty legumes can create a harmonious blend with the wine's nuanced flavors.
Baked Farro With Lentils, Tomato and Feta
By Ali Slagle
About: The history of Manuel Quintano and his wines is a fascinating chapter in the storied wine-making tradition of Spain, particularly within the renowned Rioja region. Manuel Quintano, a clergyman from Labastida in the heart of Rioja Alavesa, is credited with revolutionizing the region's wine industry in the late 18th century. His contributions were pivotal in establishing Rioja as a symbol of quality winemaking, a reputation the region enjoys today.
In the 1780s, Quintano traveled to Bordeaux, France, to learn about the winemaking techniques contributing to the area's burgeoning reputation for fine wines. At that time, Bordeaux was already employing advanced vinification and barrel aging methods, which were largely unknown in Spain. Inspired by what he learned, Quintano returned to Rioja to elevate the quality of local wines. He introduced the practice of aging wine in oak barrels, a technique that would become a defining characteristic of Rioja wines.
Quintano's innovations continued beyond barrel aging. He was also among the first in the region to advocate for the careful selection of grapes and the importance of terroir — the unique combination of soil, climate, and geography that affects the taste of wine. By adapting Bordeaux's techniques to the local varietals, primarily Tempranillo, Quintano set new standards for quality and complexity in Rioja wines.
The impact of Manuel Quintano's work was profound. He transformed winemaking in Rioja from a local craft to an industry capable of producing wines that could compete internationally. His methods spread throughout the region, laying the foundation for the Rioja Designation of Origin (D.O.Ca. Rioja), later established to regulate and promote the quality of Rioja wines.
The legacy of Manuel Quintano lives on through the wines that bear his name. The Quintano family, dedicated to preserving his pioneering spirit, continues to produce wines that reflect the quality and tradition he instituted. The vineyards, some of which are among the oldest in the region, are a testament to the enduring value of Quintano's approach to viticulture and winemaking. Today, Manuel Quintano's contributions are recognized as instrumental in shaping the identity of Rioja wines. His insistence on quality, innovation, and respect for the land has influenced generations of winemakers in Rioja and beyond.
The Rioja Alavesa, a sub-region of the broader Rioja appellation, is renowned for its unique terroir, characterized by the Cantabrian Mountains to the north and the Ebro River to the south. This geographical positioning creates a microclimate that, coupled with the region's chalky-clay soils and limestone bedrock, provides optimal conditions for growing the Tempranillo grape, the quintessential varietal of the area.
Geographically, Labastida (the area where the vineyards are located) is nestled at the foothills of the Sierra de Toloño mountains. The vineyards benefit from a unique microclimate characterized by Mediterranean and Atlantic influences. This climatic balance ensures a gradual ripening of the grapes, which is crucial for developing the complex flavors and aromas that Rioja wines are known for. The protection provided by the mountains also shields the vines from excessive rainfall, creating relatively dry conditions ideal for high-quality grape production.
The terroir of Labastida is distinguished by its calcareous clay soils, which are particularly well-suited to the Tempranillo grape, Rioja's flagship varietal. These soils provide excellent drainage, reducing water stress on the vines and contributing to the concentration of flavors in the grapes. The altitude of the vineyards, ranging from 400 to 700 meters above sea level, further significant the aromatic profile and acidity of the wine, imbuing it with a distinctive freshness and structure.
Vineyards in Labastida are often terraced, reflecting the hilly terrain and a traditional approach to maximizing land use and sun exposure for the vines. This topography requires a significant amount of manual labor, from pruning to harvest, ensuring that each vine receives meticulous care. Such hands-on attention to viticulture is a hallmark of Labastida's winemaking philosophy, emphasizing quality over quantity.
According to their official site: “The 2018 campaign was the latest in many years. The rains and snows were abundant in a cold winter that generated a delay in sprouting that the vine did not recover throughout the cycle. The result: a fresh vintage of medium strength and balanced acidity.
Destemming 90% of the harvest and processing the rest with its stems. Pre-fermentation maceration for 4 days and spontaneous fermentation. Malolactic fermentation and maturation in cement tanks for a minimum of 4 months until optimal consumption.”
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