WA93 The 2019 Blanco is a blend of Viura and Garnacha Blanca that wants to be fresh but complex, elegant but structured. It’s a blend of different vinifications, some with skin contact, some with malolactic, etc. in search of achieving more complexity and showing the limestone soils from a cool place even, in warmer vintages like this 2019. The bottled wine is 13.05% alcohol and has freshness with a pH of 3.3 and close to six grams of tartaric. It’s very medicinal, textured and with some tannin, from early-picked grapes to keep the acidity. It’s also balsamic, with notes of cloves, dry flowers, chamomile, quince and citrus, so it’s certainly not your average young white from Rioja. It aged in oak for 11 months (500-liter barrels and 1,000-liter foudres). The palate has a lovely texture, round and lush with great freshness, and it’s structured and long. I love it. 6,368 bottles produced. It was bottled in September 2020.
Alegre Valgañón is located in far Western Rioja, at the base of the Obarenes Mountains. Owned by husband and wife team, Oscar Alegre (cut his teeth working with Alvaro Palacios and Telmo Rodriguez, rockstars of modern Spanish winemaking) and winemaker, Eva Valgañón the winery was started only in 2010. Soils here are similar to those in Alavesa /Alta, with a lime-rich marl base. Sandstone (and sand) become bigger components in vineyards closer to the mountain bases.
Oscar and Eva take a village approach to making Rioja wines. For the most part, they work in a handful of small villages and pueblos in the foothills of Montes Obarenes in Rioja’s remote northwest.
Just 100km inland from the Atlantic, it’s a perfect expression of Rioja’s Continental-Atlantic duality. The vineyards are at around 600 metres altitude on chalky soils.
Their key vineyard, ‘la Calleja’, is part of the Valgañon family farm in Fonzaleche. This pueblo of 80 people, way out west of Haro, has the last vineyards of Rioja as you depart for Burgos. This is hilly mountain country, with lots of stone high up in cold soil, producing light and fluid wines with excellent acid structure.