2012 Lealtanza Rioja Reserva
The X Factor
Wait, WHAT? A 97-pointer for less than 25 bucks?! If us Wine Spies were you, we’d pause reading here, load up our carts with as much as our budgets allowed, add another case, check out, then continue reading. The formerly under the radar Altanza winery nestled in Spain’s iconoclastic Rioja region swept an unforeseeable accolade with this soaring 97-point review at the Decanter Magazine’s influential Asian awards last year and quickly rose to worldwide recognition. In the company of wineries dating back to the 19th century in Rioja, a relative newcomer such as Altanza, established in 1998, usually struggles to get recognized as the traditionalists along with a few exceptionally flashy modernists for a stark contrast, run the show here. This wine has put Altanza on the Rioja map and we’re thrilled and privileged to offer this sleeping giant to you.
A bright, vibrant scarlet color shows streaks of violet as you bend the glass into the light. Savory and elegant on the nose, offering aromatics of ripe cherries, raspberries, graphite, and tobacco. Opulent on the palate, complex and lively with harmonious, silky tannins provide the subtle backbone. The finish has great persistence, with a special brightness of fruit, elegant, fresh and seemingly everlasting. This stunner leaves one with an instant craving of well-aged Manchego cheese, Jamon, Serrano or Iberico, and fresh bread. Fair warning, it makes time fly from opening a bottle to finishing it.
Named for the river (río) Oja, in Northeast Spain, most of the Rioja wine region falls within the province it shares its name with, though it partially extends into the Basque and Navarra regions. This quite large span results in microclimates and various soils within the region that can be very different in the styles of wines made. With polarized traditional and modernist camps competing and driving the region forward with inertia, Rioja is subdivided into three zones: Rioja Alta, Rioja Alavesa, and Rioja Baja. To further complicate matters, each of those regions has grape and winemaking preferences that can lead to drastic differences in the final product. Bodegas Altanza, perfectly situated in Rioja Alta, is a modernist establishment with deeply rooted respect for the region’s tradition-rich history, and the Lealtanza Reserva brings all that is possible in Rioja together, at a fantastic value, nonetheless.
Here’s what the wine press has to say:
97 points - Decanter - “Rounded and layered aromas of dried fruits, red cherry, smoke, and coconut. Well-polished and presented with red fruit and plum flavors sluicing through the palate. It is, simply, a beautiful wine with the X-factor.”
A bright, vibrant scarlet color shows streaks of violet as you bend the glass into the light.
Savory and elegant, offering aromatics of ripe cherries, raspberries, graphite and tobacco.
Opulent, complex and lively with harmonious, silky tannins providing the subtle backbone.
Great persistence with a special brightness of fruit, elegant, fresh and seemingly everlasting.
An instant craving of well-aged Manchego cheese, Jamon, Serrano or Iberico, and fresh bread.
What the Winery Says
- Oscar Martinez
- Chiles Valley, Napa Valley
- 100% Tempranillo
- 18 months in French oak barrels plus 3 months in French oak (Allier) cask of 22 HL