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A Rare Gran Reserva Blanco from Marques de Tomares

In most places, being called 'old fashioned' is a kiss of death. In Rioja, however, especially when discussing a producer like Marques de Tomares, it should be taken as the highest compliment. 

It's hard to imagine a region better suited to winemaking than Rioja. It has sunny skies, a warm climate, and complex patchwork of soil types. The foothills of a mountain range even protects the vines from blustery oceanic winds. And of course, there's the ingrained, traditional winemaking technique--long aging in oak barrels--to set it apart even further. 

Throughout the entire winemaking world, old vine wines are treasured for their concentration and intensity.

Unfortunately, in Rioja those treasured old vines are all too frequently ripped up in favor of young, highly productive ones. Some of the most esteemed producers have no interest in maintaining their old vines. Marqués de Tomares thinks differently--and thank goodness. 

Take the vines from which their Gran Reserva blanco originates.

They range between 40 to a whopping 100 years of age. They lie at elevations between 400 and 750m asl.

It's difficult to overstate how precious the combination of old vines and high elevation is. And the terroir? It's clay and limestone, that wonderful combination of soil types that yield bright, mineral-driven wines (not to mention the skilled winemaking and sustainable farming).

It's mostly Viura (95%) with just a splash of Garnacha blanca. This wine was aged for 36 months in mostly old, mostly French oak. Then bottled and laid down for another 2 and a half years.

Like most Gran Reservas, it's only made in the best of vintages (2010 is consistently regarded as excellent).

It's a long, complex wine that holds its own against Rioja's most well-known, age-worthy whites, from powerhouses like López de Heredia.

This is not one to miss:

Marques de Tomares, Rioja Gran Reserva Blanco, 2010