Altos R Pigeage Tempranillo 2019

Altos R Pigeage Tempranillo 2019

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  • Rioja - Spain
  • 2019 - Tempranillo
  • 15.0 % Alc - 750 ml

Winemaker Jean-Marc Sauboua may have perfected his craft at Bordeaux’s famed Château Haut Brion, but he has Rioja in his blood (it is his mother’s homeland, after all). Alongside talented head winemaker Amaia Amestoy, he makes brilliant wines at his highly awarded Altos de Rioja estate.

Situated among the Sierra Cantabria Mountains, Altos is surrounded by the highest vineyards in all of Rioja. At 1,900 to 2,200 feet in altitude, the days are hot and sunny, while temperatures drop by as much as 68 degrees Fahrenheit between day and night. That’s the secret to bringing out freshness and vivid aromas…attributes that are prized in the finest Rioja.

Pigeage is Altos’ flagship red, crafted with grapes from a plot of 80-year-old Tempranillo and Graciano vines in the premium district of Rioja Alavesa. These miserly old vines yield tiny grapes that deliver a wonderfully distinctive, pure intensity.

To showcase all that flavor character and draw out deep color with velvety texture, Amaia employed the pigeage technique in the cellar (a traditional Burgundian method of fermenting in open vats and gently plunging down the grape skins, repeatedly). Then, they treat the wine to a generous period of aging in barrels from three of France’s finest coopers (Taransaud, Saury and François Frères) plus top-quality American Canton oak. After multiple tastings from barrel over the course of 15 months, quality-obsessed Amaia and Jean-Marc were hugely pleased, and released this gem to unbelievable acclaim.

This exceptional 2019 certainly lives up to its legacy, having already won multiple gold medals, plus 97 points from two top Spanish competitions, 94 points from critic James Suckling and 92 points from Master of Wine Tim Atkin.

Atkin praised the “structure, depth and intensity,” while James Suckling noted the deeply complex palate. “Blueberries and blackberries, together with lots of vanilla and walnuts, as well as hints of refined, savory balsamic and tobacco. Quite a full-bodied Rioja with lots of truffles, tobacco and savory dark berries that extend to the very long finish.”

While that aging qualifies for Reserva labeling (by Rioja’s strict wine laws), all the extra care makes for a Gran Reserva experience: a smoothness, deep concentration and ability to develop beautifully for decades. But it also has the flair of a Grand Cru Classé from Bordeaux. As Jean-Marc likes to say, it’s “fine Rioja with a French passport.”

As with all fine wines, we recommend decanting 60 minutes before serving to release its full aromas and flavors.

Don't miss your opportunity to taste an stunning wine from a truly special corner of Rioja.

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