2017 Olivier Rivière “La Vallada” Tinto, Vino de Mesa, Toro, Castilla y Leon, Spain

La Vallada is a 2.5 hectare enclosed vineyard (vallada meaning enclosed) at an elevation of 950m from which Olivier sources young vine Tempranillo for this cuvée. Olivier considers this cuvée to be his Covarrubias Village wine. Because of this site’s youth, Olivier gently destems the fruit destined for La Vallada, keeping the whole berries intact. The fruit is then carefully layered in a fermentation tank, with any overflow being fermented in small bins. The weight of the grapes and the native yeasts causes fermentation to begin naturally. Extraction and macerations are very gentle, resulting in a small percentage of the fruit fermenting by carbonic maceration.


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The 2017 La Vallada is now sold without the Arlanza appellation of origin, from where the grapes were sourced at 900 meters in altitude from vines averaging 35 years of age. It's a ripe and serious Tempranillo fermented with 20% full clusters and with only 20% of the volume matured in barrique. It has very integrated oak, ripe fruit without excess and a soft mouthfeel representing a warmer vintage. It's medium to full-bodied with abundant, fine-grained tannins and a chalky mouthfeel.


With about 25 hectares of rented and owned vineyards in Rioja Alta, Rioja Baja, Rioja Alavesa, and splitting his time between his own wines and consulting with other producers, it would be an understatement to say that Olivier Rivière is busy. Originally lured to Spain in 2004 by Telmo Rodriguez to convert his vineyards to biodynamics, Olivier came to appreciate the rich history of Rioja and the diversity of its soils and grape varieties. In 2006 he started his own project, and owing to the high cost of land in Rioja, he traded his farming talents for access to grapes from the best sites he could locate.

Coming from France, Olivier has an innate sense of terroir. Unlike many of his peers in Rioja, he bases his cuvées not on political boundaries or the length of barrel aging but on terroir. He believes in a quality hierarchy inspired by Burgundy with generic Appellation and Village wines at the base and Premier and Grand cru wines at the top. This is how to understand best what Olivier is doing in Rioja, rather than the traditional Crianza, Reserva, Gran Reserva model or traditionalists versus modernists.

In keeping with his education and advocation, nearly all of Olivier’s vineyard sources – whether owned or leased – are farmed organically with biodynamic practices. Harvested is manual and each variety is fermented separately. Depending on the source, it may be partially destemmed or fermented whole cluster. Fermentations are with indigenous yeasts. Macerations are gentle and short. Aging takes place in stainless steel or cement tanks, foudre, and barrel with each container chosen to benefit the expression of the terroir. SO2 is kept to a minimum, usually added only before bottling. These are not your grandparent’s Riojas, nor are they your parent’s. These wines represent a novel approach that relies almost entirely on the specificity of site and the transparency of winemaking necessary to capture it. 


Grape(s) Tempranillo
Farming Sustainable