Bodegas Santalba "Ermita de San Felices" Rioja Reserva 2010

Tempranillo|Rioja Alta, Spain

From Bodegas Santalba, a family producer of traditional-minded Rioja in Haro, the heart of Rioja, comes a wonderful Reserva Tempranillo from the lauded 2010 vintage.

"Santalba" is a portmanteau of the founder's name: Santiago Ijalba. Santiago founded the estate in 1964, putting him in the vanguard of Riojana pioneers, far before the region had the international acclaim of today. His son Roberto assists with farming and winemaking, poised to become the latest steward in this multi-generational classic estate.

Made only in the best vintages. Hand-harvested Tempranillo was aged for 17 months in barrel and another 24 months in bottle – in fact, by law Reserva wines must be aged for a minimum three years before release. The bodega held this parcel back at their estate even longer, feeling that it must spend additional time in bottle to develop the highly sought-after bouquet Rioja is so known for.

One immediately grasps the significance in the aging, from the ruby core to the iron rust-colored rim. The nose is deliciously, classically Rioja Reserva: deeply savory with dried cherries, oolong, tobacco leaf, and clove.  The palate has a bright cherry-strawberry tint with soft, well developed tannins, brisk acidity, and all those savory notes of tea leaves, red and black licorice, tobacco and dry spices.

Located in the northwest pocket of Rioja – the "Alta" region – the Bodega crafts numerous cuvées based on different pockets of vines and terroirs. This is their Reserva bottling from vineyards surrounding the isolated hilltop 5th-century chapel ("ermita") of San Felices, the patron saint of Haro, and its imposing statue overlooking the village of Haro.

It doesn't get much better than decade-plus-old Rioja Tempranillo!
  • $29.00

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