A 50-50 blend of Tempranillo and Garnacha, with great structure, fruit and minerality, particularly for a sub-$20 bottle of red. Native South African Bryan MacRobert grew up in a farming family, and has been quietly making some of that country's best value wines. He fell in love with a girl from Rioja as well as the region's wines (we forget in which order) but quickly became fascinated with the inimitable terroirs and endless potential for wines in the region. A proponent not only of organic viticulture, but also a strong believer in the importance of legacy organically cultivated vines on top quality sites, Bryan is picky about where he grows and sources vines. The winemaking is no frills but clearly well thought out and opinionated; think lots of smaller cement vats and wood in sizes greater than 225L barriques. He's a fan of Stockinger cooperage. Particularly with the whites, these are wines where transparency, minerality and acidity drive the style. His red features organically farmed Rioja Alavesa Tempranillo with some Rioja Baja Garnacha and Rioja Alta Mazuelo (from San Vicente) blended in as well. It is a tense and taut style, very mineral, yet not at all weighed down by oak. Some whole clusters are used. What some may see as a bit strict and atypical, others such as myself see as a potential new way forward for reds in this region. Either way, this is a very well made, wholly original take on red Rioja.
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