Jaun de Alzate Blanco Reserva
Jaun de Alzate Blanco Reserva
Quite possibly the best value white Rioja reserva in Spain
Jaun de Alzate Blanco Reserva is made from Viura grapes planted more than 70 years ago in vineyard plots around the village of Lapuebla de Labarca en Rioja Alavesa. Golden yellow in colour, the wine has a rich nose of brioche, mature tropical fruit and orange peel. More citrus notes come through on the palate, with a touch of marzipan. A sumptuous, gastronomic wine ideal for Christmas celebrations. Only 2,400 bottles were made of the 2010 vintage.
White meat, Creamy sauces, Fish
More about Jaun de Alzate Blanco Reserva
Who makes it
Bodegas Loli Casado is a traditional, family-run winery based in the little village of Lapuebla de Labarca in the Rioja Alavesa sub-zone of DOCa Rioja. The winery’s story began more than one hundred years ago with Loli’s grandfather, Eusebio. At that time, agriculture was the main activity in the area, with farmers growing cereals, olives and vines mainly for their own consumption. Like many others in the village, Eusebio’s family had their own underground cellar which is still used today to store wooden barrels filled with wine.
At that time, the grapes were carried by hand in barrels or comportones from the vineyard to the lago de piedra or stone tank where they fermented using the age-old technique of carbonic maceration.
By the 1960s, Loli’s father Luis was in charge and he converted a lot of the land from cereals to vineyard and began to buy up neighbouring plots to increase the size of the area under vine. The old winery remained, but Luis added a new building with underground concrete tanks where the wine would rest while it waited to be bottled.
In the 1980s, Luis decided it was time to create his own brand, and the Jaun de Alzate range of wines was born, which included barrel-aged crianza wines – no small feat for a small, family winery. It would have all been much harder without the constant help and support of his wife Emi – Loli’s mother – who in Loli’s own words ¨worked miracles out of nothing!¨Having grown up surrounded by vines, demijohns and bottles, Loli combined her job as a nurse with work at the winery where she was joined in 1989 by her husband, Jesús. The couple finally took over the family business in 2000 when Luis and Emi retired. The winery expanded and Loli and Jesús introduced newer, more contemporary-styled wines to add to the range. Now with 20 hectares of vineyards, Bodegas Loli Casado has come a long way since Eusebio’s day but the core philosophy remains the same: a respect for the vines and the vineyard, a focus on manual harvesting with a careful selection of top-quality fruit, and a respect for the natural environment.
About the grapes
Jaun de Alzate Blanco Reserva is made from Viura grapes from the La Llana vineyard which is made up of a series of plots planted between 70 and 80 years ago at 450 metres above sea level by Loli’s grandfather Eusebio. The soil here is poor in organic matter and is dotted with patches of limestone which helps give the grapes minerality and personality.
Within Rioja, Viura is pretty popular. In fact, it was one of the historic varieties which was first permitted when the DO was set up back in the 1920s. Winegrowers liked it because it was quite productive, and it still represents a little over 60% of all white varieties planted in Rioja and is an important part of the region’s exciting experimentation with new white wines.
When you’re tasting Viura, expect to find aromas of white fruit or green melon coupled with floral and sometimes aniseed notes. Older examples can exhibit slightly nuttier characteristics.
Where it's made
Rioja is one of Spain’s best known and best-loved wine regions and is on a par with renowned wine-producing regions like Bordeaux and Burgundy in France, or Barolo in northern Italy.
Sitting in the north of Spain, Rioja runs about 100 km from West to East and 40 km North to South, centred around the city of Logroño. The Ebro river runs through it from west to east. Rioja has just over 66,000 hectares of vineyards, which is about 7% of the Spanish total. In that area you'll find about 14,800 farmers who grow grapes which they then sell on to about 574 actual wine producers.
Traditionally, winemaking in Rioja has put a big focus on blending – mixing together grapes grown in different zones of the region to achieve balanced wines. But in recent years, Riojan producers are lobbying for changes to the rules to allow wine labels to include more specific references to where within Rioja the wines actually come from. It’s a move towards the more terroir-focused approach, used in lots of the other great wine regions of the world.
How it's made
Once the grapes have been destemmed, the grape skins and the must macerate together in inox tanks at a constant 8-10ºC for 36 hours to help all the flavour and aroma from the skins percolate through into the final wine. After 36 hours, the must is racked off into a separate tank where it undergoes alcoholic fermentation at 15ºC to help lock in aromas. The wine is then kept in the tank for a further 6-8 months before being racked off into 225-litre French oak barrels where it ages for 36 months, followed by a further 48 months in the bottle before release.