Bodegas Exopto Rioja El Espinal de Exopto 2021

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Bodegas Exopto Rioja El Espinal de Exopto 2021
Producer Bodegas Exopto
Region, Country Rioja, Spain
Bottle Size 750ml
Product Code 23029-750

El Espinal was the first label under Tom Puyaubert’s Colección Miguel Angel Mato. Mato, a native of San Vicente de la Sonsierra, is the seasoned grower who does all the work, cultivating by mule in some of Exopto’s principal vineyards. He also owns several old vineyards high on the slopes of the Sierra Cantabria, including El Espinal. The plot name Espinal references the pine trees on the exposed slopes of the Sierra Cantabria in San Vicente, which have always been a part of this high-country landscape. At 650 metres, El Espinal is getting on for serious altitude in the context of Rioja.

This site—a 0.3-hectare limestone/clay vineyard—is planted to bush vines of the extremely rare Maturana Tinta vine, a re-emerging variety in Rioja. The Wine Grapes bible classifies it as Trousseau; however, Puyaubert tells us that this is not the case and that these vines are, in fact, Castets, a now almost extinct French variety that was once grown in some quantity in the Bordeaux area (and is related to Cabernet Franc). Another atypical facet of this cuvée is Puyaubert’s use of vinification intégrale, whereby the fruit fermented in closed, 600-litre French oak barrels, which are rolled several times a day. There are no pumpovers, no plunging—just rolling, which results in infusion rather than extraction. Following fermentation and pressing, the juice is racked back into these same casks for 15 months before bottling.

The result is unlike anything you may have tasted from Rioja before. Picked a whole month after Exopto’s Ábalos vineyards, the inviting dark purple, almost inky hue draws you in before layers of complexity stream from the glass: waves of dark fruit, nettles and scrub and the pine cone/green peppercorn note so commonly found in the wines from this site. Then you get waves of moreish mid-palate freshness, lifted chalky tannins and lip-smacking acidity. Like an outstanding Loire Cab Franc, yet with perhaps more flesh, it’s a superb and unique red from Rioja’s high country. As one taster put it: Yum. 

Bodegas Exopto Rioja El Espinal de Exopto 2021

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