Jaun de Alzate Crianza
Jaun de Alzate Crianza
An elegantly made, astounding value classic Rioja crianza
- Producer: Bodegas Loli Casado
- Region: DOCa Rioja
- Vintage: 2020
- ABV: 14 %
- Grape: Tempranillo, Graciano, Mazuelo
Deep cherry red with some streaks of ruby, the wine exudes delicious aromas of red and black fruit and a faint touch of spice. Plenty of plum, blackberry, cherry and raspberry on the palate, with a touch of cinnamon and polished tannins which help lend the wine a silky smooth finish.
Red meat, Chicken, Embutidos, Cheese
More about Jaun de Alzate Crianza
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
Tempranillo is Spain’s most planted red grape variety, covering over 202,000 hectares - about one-fifth of all Spain’s vineyards. The name Tempranillo comes from the Spanish word temprano, which means "early". That’s because Tempranillo ripens early and has a shorter growing cycle than many other grapes.
Wines made from Tempranillo don’t tend to be too high in alcohol, which makes them relatively easy to drink and to pair with different foods. Tempranillo often have aromas like strawberries and other red fruits, and you can detect spice, leather and tobacco leaves. But the end result is as much down to the skill of the winemaker as it is to the grape variety itself.
Graciano is perhaps best known as ¨Rioja´s third grape¨ after Tempranillo and Garnacha. In Rioja, it used to be more widely grown but low yields meant it fell into disfavour for a while but is now staging a comeback. It was traditionally used in blends where producers appreciate the natural freshness it brings to the wines, but in recent years a few producers in Rioja and Navarra, for example, have begun making single varietal wines with Graciano. It is often described as a very perfumed variety, with an aromatic nose of spice, mature red fruit and menthol notes. It tends to give fresh, elegant wines which are quite full in the mouth and with a long finish.
Mazuelo (aka Cariñena) was once the dominant grape variety in much of Spain, as well as southern France. In fact, its popularity in areas like Languedoc-Rousillon made it France’s most planted grape variety at one point in the 20th century before it fell out of favour. These days it has staged a bit of a comeback, and in Spain you’ll find the variety in Rioja, Aragon and Catalunya. In Rioja, Mazuelo is valued because its high tannins and acidity make it a good partner for Tempranillo-based wines designed to be aged for a few years before being drunk.
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
Jaun de Alzate Crianza 2020 is made from a blend of Tempranillo (90%) with a splash of Graciano (5%) and Mazuelo (5%). The fruit is from family-owned vineyards planted on two separate plots about 45 years ago. The first 6 hectare plot is predominantly clay and limestone soil and is at 480 metres above sea level, while the second 2 hectare plot has sandier soil with a covering of stones and is at 420 metres above sea level.
The grapes are harvested manually with rigorous selection to weed out any sub-standard fruit. The grapes are then destemmed but not crushed and put into conical, stainless steel fermentation tanks with temperature control. The must undergoes daily pumping over during its 18-day fermentation, as well as rack and return, or délestage which helps the diffusion of tannins and pigments from the fruit into the wine. Once fermentation is complete, the wine is aged for 2 years, of which 14 months takes place in traditional 225-litre American oak barrels.