Rioja 2015, Tempranillo, Bodegas Moraza ($18.35, 12473825)
100% Tempranillo from organically farmed vines in three parcels with chalky-claey soil around the village of San Vicente de la Sonsierra, Rioja Alta. In a quest for freshness and lower-than-usual alcohol levels, the grapes are picked (by hand) earlier than at most other estates in the region. Undergoes partial carbonic maceration. Fermented in concrete tanks. Reducing sugar: 1.3 g/l. 13% ABV. Quebec agent: Boires.
Spiced plum and black raspberry, turned earth, old wood, some leather in the background. On the fuller side of medium-bodied. The spicy ripe fruit seems sweet on entry, an impression that quickly fades, leaving a bone-dry mid-palate. Prominent mineral and faint lactic notes add interest, sleek acidity keeps things fresh. The tannins are stealthy, most apparent on the long finish, which is marked by a light but pervasive astringency, a note pitched between dried tree leaves and dried herbs and a lingering black pepper bite. While there’s not a lot of depth (maybe it’s a young-vine cuvée?), this is a high-quality, complex and savoury sub-$20 wine, albeit one that virtually demands food. Smooths and coheres after an hour’s breathing, so carafing isn’t a bad idea. (Buy again? Yes.)
I’d seen this recent arrival on the monopoly’s shelves but my interest wasn’t really piqued until I read Karyne Duplessis Piché’s profile of the estate in Friday’s La Presse and the companion piece about the attempts of a handful of iconoclast producers to open the Rioja appellation to a more terroir-driven approach.