Remelluri, Rioja Reserva
Remelluri, Rioja Reserva

Remelluri, Rioja Reserva

Rioja Alavesa, Spain 2008 (750mL)
Regular price$80.00
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Remelluri, Rioja Reserva

For years now, we’ve been connecting SommSelect readers with must-have library releases from iconic producers. With the Remelluri Reserva 2008, we take everything that made those previous offers special and crank it up a notch. It’s not only a perfect example of Rioja just entering its prime drinking window, selected by the winemaker for release thanks to its ideal evolutionary point. It’s also a still-evolving collectible from one of the most talented, passionate, forward-thinking winemakers in all of Spain.

At Remelluri, Telmo Rodríguez pushes the boundaries of Rioja by working with some of the oldest, highest-elevation vines in the appellation, and leads a movement to refocus the region’s attention away from the cellar and back on the vineyard. His Reserva more than lives up to his grand ambitions, bringing hyper-polished purity and an almost Burgundian sense of terroir transparency. This isn’t Rioja just for those initiated in the unique (often oak-laden) traditions of Spanish wine, but a profoundly elegant masterpiece that anyone interested in the world’s best wine experiences should secure. Rodríguez is producing some of the most exciting, important wines in Rioja right now. You couldn’t ask for a better way to get acquainted, if you aren’t already!

You might expect a winemaker in a region as storied and bankable as Rioja to rest on their laurels, keep doing things the way they’ve always been done. Not Telmo Rodríguez. When he and his sister Amaia took over the family estate in 2010, they immediately made radical changes. They cut production by a third, choosing to use only estate-grown fruit (extremely rare in Rioja, where even the most iconic wines typically contain often significant amounts of purchased grapes). They retrained the vines into traditional bushes, and began interplanting varieties into what had been monovarietal vineyards. They achieved certification for their organic farming. And they turned Remelluri into a meeting place, where they established the group Futuro Viñador (“Future Vineyard”), a gathering of Spanish growers who aim to promote organic viticulture and site-specific wines in their respective regions. 

In some ways, Telmo is turning Rioja on its head. Most conversations about Rioja center around what happens in the cellar, not the vineyard. Think of the emphasis given to the aging regiments (Crianza vs. Reserva vs. Gran Reserva), and the fact that very few Riojas ever carry a vineyard name on their labels. But Telmo is changing that, having already begun projects that highlight single-village Rioja bottlings and encouraging neighbors to follow suit.

But Remelluri is by no means a new estate. Indeed, viticulture has been practiced where Remelluri stands since the 14th century. It’s planted entirely to the traditional red Rioja varieties—Tempranillo, Garnacha, Graciano, Mazuelo—along with a similarly indigenous slate of white grapes. Remelluri is the leading producer in the Rioja Alavesa subzone, which is home to the region’s most northerly vineyards. Situated in the foothills of the Sierra de Toloño mountains, Rioja Alavesa sees increased rainfall and cooler temperatures thanks to high elevations, meaning the wines here retain more freshness and snap than those from the plain below. More than anything, when tasting Remelluri, one is struck by the lift and elegance on display.

The 2008 Remelluri Reserva is made up of 90% Tempranillo, 5% Graciano, and 5% Garnacha. It was handpicked, fermented spontaneously, followed by two years in French and American oak, and bottling in 2010. It opens with a flourish of dried red fruit and spice, led by dried cranberries, black cherry pit, crushed raspberry, dried roses, sandalwood, leather, tobacco, cedar, coconut husk, cinnamon, and clove. The palate is soft, rounded, totally free of hard edges, yet with a lively chord of acidity that promises further evolution ahead (although there’s no reason to wait, as it is drinking beautifully right now). It leans into the savory end of the spectrum on the palate, a more prominent mushroomy earth coming to the fore. The grace on display here, as well as the subdued American oak character in comparison to other producers’ bottlings, is really what sets it apart. In all, it’s a luxurious, wonderfully pure Rioja experience that will continue to reward up to and beyond a decade more in your cellar. Don’t hesitate to go deep!

Remelluri, Rioja Reserva


Eastern Spain


The Montsant DO is Priorat’s downslope neighbor in northeastern
Spain, but other than differences in altitude, there isn’t much else to tell their terroirs apart. Both appellations contain some of the world’s greatest old-vine Garnacha (Grenache) in soils of fractured granite and shale known locally as llicorella. It is a Mediterranean climate, with wide diurnal temperature swings.

Eastern Spain


Technically, a wine labeled ‘Cava’ can be produced in several different regions, but Penedès, on Spain’s northern Mediterranean coast, is its
spiritual home. The climate is Mediterranean, the soils a favorable mix of limestone (key in pre-serving acids), sand, and clay, and Cava sparklers are crafted in the traditional ‘Champagne’ method. The traditional grapes used for Cava are Xarel-lo (cha-RAY-yo), Macabeu, and Parellada.

Northwestern Spain


Galicia is lusher, colder, wetter, and greener than most of the rest of Spain, especially where wine-growing
is concerned. Viticulture up here is some of the most “heroic” in the world, as vineyards cling to impossibly steep slopes along snaking rivers such as the Miño and
the Sil. The influence of the Atlantic Ocean is profound, often lending wines a salty, “sea spray” character.

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