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Wallflower wonderment: Rioja from Valenciso

From humble beginnings in 1998, Luis Valentin and Carmen Enciso continue to go about their business in an elegantly understated manner; continuously upping their game and sharing some of the finest Rioja coming out of the region and at very affordable prices. A pair of reds take centre stage today, with a very limited amount of the white and rosé available too. 

Dear Reader,

Valenciso’s foundations were built on a single Reserva red wine. This continues to be their focus, but alongside it, and relevant to this offer today, is a very limited production of a special edition red released 10 years after the vintage, a white and a rosé.

“Valenciso produce balanced, elegant and reliable Riojas that show the perfect marriage of tradition and modernity. Anything with their name is worth trying.”
Luis Gutiérrez | Wine Advocate | April 2015

Reserva 2014

Made exclusively from old vine (45-85 years) Tempranillo, the grapes for the Reserva come from 17 parcels, all located in Rioja Alta and within a 10km radius of the winery. With 60% of the Tempranillo growing as bush vines, all are planted in clay-rich soils.

Come harvest time, grapes are picked by hand and then sorted by hand back at the winery. The destemmed grapes go into concrete tanks to undergo fermentation and malolactic fermentation. Thereafter, the wine is racked off into French oak barrels (one-third new, second-fill and third-fill) for 19 months of maturation. The wine is then racked off again into concrete tank for natural separation of sediment and stabilisation, where it remains for 2 years. The Reserva is bottled and matured for a further 18 months before it is released to market.

This Reserva is one of our best sellers for the quality and value it brings. It’s the kind of wine to order by the case, so get in touch with your account manager to arrange yours.

Reserva 2014 (750ml)
R 395
per bottle

Reserva 2014 (1.5L)
R 795
per magnum

“…a lighter expression of Valenciso that is developing more complex aromas, and the acidity and tannins are slowly being resolved. They say it’s the most modern among the classics and the most classic among modern Reservas. I agree.”
93 points | Luis Gutiérrez | Wine Advocate | October 2020

Edición Limitada “10 Años Después” 2010

R 1,785
per 3-bottle case

As the Spanish name alludes to, this is a limited-edition wine that is released 10 years after the vintage. Only 4,500 bottles of the 2010 were made. The wine is beautifully packaged in wooden cases of 3 bottles.

The Tempranillo for this wine comes from two old (85 years) bush vine blocks, located in Ollauri, Rioja Alta. Organically farmed, these vines are also planted in clay-rich soils.

The grapes are picked and vinified in the very same manner as those that are destined for the Reserva. Maturation, however, is a different story. Following fermentation, the wine is racked off into concrete tank where it ages for five years. It then spends a further four-and-a-half years in third-fill Russian oak barrels. The 2010 was bottled in December 2020 and spent a final six months at the winery before being released to market.

“It combines the texture and mouthfeel from traditional Rioja with the cleanliness and precision of the more modern examples. Furthermore, in a vintage like 2010, it combines power and elegance, while still quite young and lively. It has notes of fine woods and smoke with dry flowers, berries and aromatic herbs, quite complex and elegant, insinuating more than in your face. It’s medium to full-bodied with great harmony and elegant tannins. It finishes long and dry.”
95 points | Luis Gutiérrez | Wine Advocate | October 2020

Blanco & Rosado 2019s

The 2019 Blanco (white) is a blend of two-thirds Viura and one-third Garnacha Blanca (Grenache Blanc), and the grapes are sourced from the north of Rioja Alta from old vines located in Ollauri, Haro and Villalba. The grapes undergo a gentle pressing before being racked in oak barrel for fermentation and maturation. Only 9,000 bottles of the white were made.

The 2019 Rosado (rosé) is made exclusively from Tempranillo which is sourced from a vineyard named El Calvario in Briones. The colour in the wine is achieved by ‘bleeding off’ the juice from the skins, following just a few hours of contact. Following fermentation, the wine is kept on the lees (dead yeast cells) for nine months. A mere 4,000 bottles of the 2019 were made.

Blanco 2019
R 350
per bottle

Rosado 2019
R 250
per bottle

Other wines and future projects that make up part of Valenciso include the Rioja “Laderas de Cabama” which the bodega is currently sold out of. The next vintage will be 2018 and the idea with this wine is to showcase a fresher, fruitier style of Rioja red for everyday enjoyment.

A new vintage of straight Graciano will also be released later this year – this is another small production white wine from the bodega.

Finally, there are a couple of new projects in the pipeline. Valenciso is looking to maintain its philosophy of releasing wines that bring new ideas to the wine industry but that also echo the connection to tradition, elegance and complexity. Soon to be released is a 100% Tempranillo that is aged for two years exclusively in concrete, and a Tempranillo Blanco. Valenciso has a parcel of this varietal planted in Rioja Alta. The wine is barrel-fermented in Russian oak.

Food Pairing Suggestions

The Reserva and aged 2010 edition will go well with a range of dishes. If you enjoy lamb, you can have a lot of fun pairing the wines with roast lamb, lamb cutlets, slow braised lamb shanks or even a variety of lamb stews. Pork also goes well with red Rioja, so feel comfortable to have these pair of reds with chorizo, morcilla (black pudding), jamon (ham) and albondigas (meatballs).

For vegetarian options, you can get creative and prepare dishes which include red peppers and/or paprika. A nice one to try is the non-meat version of chilli con carne where slow-cooked beans (like kidney beans) substitute the meat.

The Rosado is wonderfully versatile and will stand up to big flavours such as anchovy, olives, garlic, saffron and peppers. Dish suggestions would include the likes of tapenade, paella or grilled chicken or fish with herbs.

For the Blanco, you cannot go wrong with simply grilled seafood, or a freshly made gazpacho. Again, the wine is quite versatile so feel free to explore variations on the theme.

Many thanks.

Kind regards,
Simon Crawley
Account Manager | WSET – Level 3