viernes, 11 de enero de 2013

Bodega Finca Allende ( Briones - La Rioja ) Miguel Angel de Gregorio


Founded as recently as 1995, Allende produce 300.000 bottles annually. Six wines are made. The first to be released was the Allende red, launched in 1995. In 1996, a second wine joined the portfolio: Aurus. This was joined in 1999 by Calvario and also the Allende white. In 2004 a small amount of a varietal Graciano was made, and the most recent addition is the Martillas.


Vineyards are located in Briones, Rioja Alta, on the right bank of Ebro River.
Allende has 56 hectares of vines, split among 92 different plots. These cover 14 different terroirs. They are situated on both slopes on the hill. Some vineyards face north/northeast, others face south/southeast. The grapes are multi-clonal selections of old Tempranillo which produce smaller berries and yields. The vineyards are 1,440-1,680 feet in elevation (480 to 560 m). The soil has a top layer of calcareous clay over gravel which dates from the quaternary period, located on the 2nd and 3rd terraces of the Ebro River. The climate is typical of Rioja Alta, Continental with Atlantic influences. Rains are normally in the winter and spring, with the prevailing winds from the north/northeast. Therefore, this creates two distinct microclimates for the vineyards because of their different exposures.


Miguel Angel de Gregorio is probably one of the best winemakers in Spain. Records from 1672 prove that the De Gregorio family has been involved in viticulture and winemaking for several centuries. In fact, his father Nicholas De Gregorio was for almost 40 years the vineyard manager for the oldest winery in Rioja, Marques de Murrieta.

Miguel Angel de Gregorio grew up surrounded by vines, barrels, and wine. His family had moved from La Mancha to La Rioja when he was just six months old, so his father could take up a position managing the vineyards at Marques de Murrieta. At the age of 25, once he had finished his university studies in agriculture, viticulture and oenology in Madrid, and after a brief stint as teacher at the same university, he became technical director at Bodegas Breton in Rioja, and in 1995 creates his own winery Finca Allende.

He has proven through his career as a winemaker to be an innovator in the new style of Rioja wine making.


Allende can be roughly translated as 'further', its philosophy is to go further and further towards creating the perfect Rioja.  The winery was established as a company in 1995, a year that also saw the first vintage, produced while de Gregorio was still at Breton. The wine was made using carbonic maceration and then aged in barrique, a formula somewhere between the ancestral method (carbonic maceration) and the new wave (new French oak) that attempted to find the best of both worlds. This balancing act has become Allende´s signature: there’s always a careful mixture of tradition and modernity, using both carbonic maceration and whole bunches, or destemmed grapes fermented in concrete, pumping over or punching the cap, malolactic in stainless steel or barrel, using American and French oak.

De Gregorio bought and restored the Palacio de Ibarra, at the entrance to the village of Briones, where since 2001 the offices and tasting rooms have been housed, with the modern winery built just behind it. The idea is to make village wines, designed to show off the character of de Gregorios various small vineyard plots 56ha (138.5 acres) in total, all located around Briones. De Gregorio favours north, northwest, or northeast orientation, since he seeks to capture the Atlantic influence and counteract the extremes of the continental climate.

By 1997, de Gregorio had given up his job and was fully dedicated to his own project, which expanded with the introduction of Aurus, a wine that attempts to embody the aurean ideal of balance, hence its name, between Tempranillo and the indigenous Graciano. It was first produced in 1996 and remains top of the range, even though a single-vineyard bottling. Calvario, was later added.

In 1998, de Gregorio and his distributor in Catalonia, the renowned wine merchant Quim Vila, owner of Vila Viniteca in Barcelona, created a joint venture under the name Paisajes y Viñedos "Landscapes and Vineyards”, to produce wines following the Burgundian idea of reflecting the characteristics of a given plot of land. They buy the grapes, and therefore some of the wines are one-offs, while others are produced regularly. They started numbering the wines with Roman numerals (I through IX), adding just one other letter for the name of the village, since the rules in Rioja did not allow them to mention location, name, or vineyard. This law has now been changed, and vineyard names are now used as wine names, such as Cecias (85-year-old Garnacha from Aguilar), La Pasada (Tempranillo from Briones), and Valsalado. From the 2007 vintage, the numbers have disappeared. Vinification and aging are adapted to the vineyard and vintage, the aim always being to preserve the characteristics of each place in wines that are true to the land from which they spring.

De Gregorio has always acted on his own impulses and shown a sometimes stubborn disregard for local wine laws, a tendency that has landed him in trouble on occasion. He continues to ignore the official designations of crianza, reserva, and gran reserva, and the wines earn a generic back label stating only the vintage. He has continued to focus on indigenous grapes, a Graciano cuvee and a single-vineyard white from old viura being two recent examples. But then, this pioneering part of his personality runs in the family: his father was said to have found the first Tempranillo vine to produce white grapes (red grapes mutating to white is not, in fact, an uncommon occurrence), which has been the source of Tempranillo Blanco in the Rioja region ever since.


- Allende 2009: In order to produce Allende, Miguel Angel de Gregorio utilises 42 hectares of 38 year-old tempranillo vineyards, vinification with destemming and generous over-pumping during the 24-day long maceration with the skins.  It is aged in oak barriques, mostly French but with 10% made from Virginian oak. It is a very personal method of making wine that results in a distinctive red wine bearing the Allende hallmark.

This wine has a dark colour with purple hues. In the nose is warm and mediterranean with lots of fruit (black berries, blueberries), wood nuances that brings cedar and tobacco leaf. In the palate is lively with serious power and balance, combining fruit freshness with structure, a great wine for aging.

This wine has been one of the flagship of the Riojan new wave since the mid-1990s. It offers a good quality-price ratio. Price: 15 €

- Allende Blanco 2009: This white is made with a proportion of 80% Viura, 20% Malvasia, aged in new French oak barrels for 12 months. 13.5% alcohol. Price: 15 €

This wine has a clean yellow, golden colour. On the nose is elegant with hints of fruits like apples and pears. In the mouth is tasty, creamy, very good balance between acidity and alcohol, and lingering finish.

- Calvario 2009: In 1945, a southwest-facing vineyard from Briones bearing the name Calvario “Calvary” was planted with 90% Tempranillo, 8% Garnacha, and 2% Graciano. Gravel/stone soils. It belongs to the de Gregorio family, and Miguel Angel first vinified it separately in 1999, proceeding to age it in new French oak barriques for 14 months. The result is one of the few single vineyard wines from Rioja. Price 79 €

We could call this wine the older brother of Allende red wine. Its colour is deep red with purple glints. The nose is warm and we find hints of mediterranean herbs,
stewed black fruits and minerals nuances. In the mouth is well balance, round tannins, soft, silky and at the same time is rich and voluptuous, with a long aftertaste. Combines greatly power and elegance. Good wine for storage and ageing purposes.

- Aurus 2009: This is a cuvée of very old vines of Tempranillo and Graciano from nine north-facing plots, grown on a slope with a high clay content in Briones, selected first in the vineyard and later at the sorting table, in search of the perfect balance. It is aged in new Tronçais oak barrels, with a very high proportion of them coming from the famous French coopers François Frères. Price: 123 €

This wine has a deep red-purple colour. On the nose is powerful and elegant, with an atlantic character if we compared it to the rest of estate wines from the cellar. Great aromatic complexity, even exotic (stewed black fruits, black olives, minerals, menthol, spices, toffee and cocoa). Great harmony on the palate with well marked sweet tannins, very complex and full of dark fruit flavours, raisin, liquorice, coffee, ink and herbs. Aftertaste long and persistent. Great wine for aging. Notice that this is a wine improves greatly in the glass, softening and becoming more refined.

- Mártires 2011: A top-of-the-range, barrel-fermented white from a vineyard outside Briones called Mártires "Martyrs", planted in 1970 to pure Viura.

This wine is has a clean and pale yellow colour. The nose is subtle and fragrant, we can find citrus and minerality nuances. On the palate is oily, smooth, silky, with great volume and a lingering finish.

Finca Allende
Area under vine: 56ha (138.5 acres); Average production: 300,000 bottles for Allende
and 12,000 for Paisajes
Plaza Ibarra 1,26330 Briones, La Rioja
Tel: +34 941 322301; Fax: +34 941 322302;

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