A succulent barrel-aged red from the high grounds of Rioja Oriental
- Producer: Casa La Rad
- Region: DOCa Rioja
- Vintage: 2019
- ABV: 14%
- Grape: Mazuelo | Garnacha | Graciano | Tempranillo
Intense cherry red in colour Solarce Tinto is highly aromatic on the nose with caramel, blackcurrant, cherry, violets and resinous notes. In the mouth, this is a broad and powerful wine with good structure and well-balanced tannins.
Beef, Pork, Game, BBQ, Rice Dishes, Stews & Sauces
More about Solarce Tinto
Who makes it
The Casa la Rad vineyard and winery sits just south-east of the city of Logroño in the middle of the Rioja region. The 100 or so hectares are a mixture of free-standing bush and trellised vines, planted across a variety of plots with different soil types, orientations and altitudes.
The estate is part of the Ocón valley which joins the Sierra de Hez mountains – part of the central Iberian range - to the south and the Ebro river to the north, which means the vines are planted at between 600 and 750 metres above sea level making for cooler temperatures and fresher growing conditions.
The vineyard is relatively new and only released its first wines onto the market in 2017. Under the watchful eye of winemaker Marta Gallego, who has worked at various well-known bodegas including the famous Muga, the winery is taking a research-driven approach to their winemaking, experimenting with different soils, altitudes and blends to extract the maximum expression of fruit and terroir from traditional Riojan varieties like Tempranillo, Garnacha, Graciano or Viura.
Solarce Tinto is made from a blend of estate-grown Tempranillo (70%) and Garnacha, with a touch of Mazuelo and Graciano making up the remaining 10%. The grapes are harvested from the 100 hectares of vineyard in the village of Ausejo in DOCa Rioja.
Tempranillo is Spain’s most common wine grape and is a very adaptable grape for winemakers to work with. It doesn’t have a particularly dominant flavour profile, but it offers good red fruit flavours and is a great grape for barrel ageing. So here it helps to make the most of the wine’s 8 months in oak barrels to bring out all those subtle woody notes.
Garnacha is low in tannins and high in alcohol. So it helps to bring body to this wine without overpowering the palate with tannins. It tends to give more red fruit flavours - strawberry and raspberry – which here work to subtly complement the darker fruits of Mazuelo.
Mazuelo (aka Cariñena and Samsó) used to be one of Spain’s dominant grape varieties due to its high yields. But issues over quality meant it fell out of favour. It’s now making a comeback, producing wines with fine tannins, good acidity, and bags of dark fruit flavour.
Graciano is a very dark-skinned grape and gives intense colour to red wines. Often described as a perfumed variety, with an aromatic nose of spice and menthol notes, Graciano lends a touch of freshness and elegance to this blend.
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
The grapes are selected in the field and later in the cellar, before going into stainless steel tanks to be fermented. The wine undergoes a further malolactic fermentation in wooden barrels and stainless-steel tanks, before going into 225 litre French and American oak barrels where it is aged for 8 months before release.
An excellent wine for the price, smooth and fruity.