2011 Torre del Conde de Hervias, Rioja, Spain

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One of Spain's classic Riojas made from rare pre-phylloxera vines from the Torre del Conde de Hervias estate. This 2011 is a blend of 90% Tempranillo and 10% Graciano that was fermented on indigenous yeasts in stainless steel and then aged for 12 months in new and one year old French and American oak barrels. It has excellent depth with darker toned black fruits along with savory notes of dried tobacco, smoke and even a hint of mushroom truffle. This is a deeply flavored wine with significant structure and tannins built for the long haul. It is drinkable now yet likely needs food to show its character and promise as it's not something one would drink casually on its own. It is something to savor indeed!

The family of Íñigo Manso de Zúñiga Ugartechea has a long history in Rioja Alta going back to the year 1352. Their grape growing legacy began in 1864 when Don Nicanor Manso de Zúñiga, the Count of Hervias, and his brother, Don Victor Cruz (who went on to found the School of Enology in Haro) first planted vines in Torremontalvo near their family home. The brothers were amazed that the vines survived the phylloxera epidemic which devastated Europe’s vineyards at the end of the 1800s. It was later determined that the reason was because they were planted in sandy soil which is resistant to the louse. In fact, the family used cuttings from those very vines to graft over to the majority of Rioja Alta’s vineyards, saving the area from further economic devastation. Today, Íñigo and his 13 brothers, sisters and cousins are the largest holders of vineyard land in Alta Rioja with over 1,000 hectares under vine. Thus, they supply the majority of their fruit to the best producers in the region.

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