Renegade Wines



For years all we've been tasting from Rioja is Tempranillo, with, occasionally, a percentage or two of Garnacha and Graciano thrown into the mix. This week world's collided when we were introduced to the Maturana grape, white and red. These were varietals on the verge of extinction, given up as lost, before Ijalba Winery discovered a forgotten, tiny vineyard with vines in the early 1970s.
Maturana Blanca is the oldest Rioja variety, mentioned as early as 1622, while Maturana Tinta's DNA analysis seems to link it to the Castets variety, which has practically disappeared in France, its country of origin. Both varietals can produce exceptional wines as is the case here. We were thrilled to receive a small amount of both yesterday.

2019 Viña Ijalba Rioja Blanco Reserva $42
Bright pale golden hue in the glass greets you like a soft morning sunrise. Fresh exotic citrus, perhaps a hint of lemongrass, peach and mango emerge, then a streak of brilliant mineral-ladden acidity, before a crescendo-ing finish. This may be brilliant paired with Spicy Grilled Oysters with Asian Pepper Relish. Of course seafood sopas would work nicely too.

2021 Viña Ijalba Maturana Rioja Tinta $42
Do not let the nearly impenetrable dark cherry color of the wine deceive. This is a very understated elegant wine with some tomfoolery about. First impressions might suggest a rich, over the top wine, but the first swirl and taste will win you over.  This is a wine that is beautifully balanced with red and dark brambly fruit, black pepper spice, subtle tannins with gorgeous structure and length. Chalky tannins towards the finish beg for classic Rioja dishes such as:

Chuletas de cordero al sarmiento – Grilled lamb chops,
Huevos a la riojana – La Rioja-style eggs, or
Fritada riojana – Fried vegetables in tomato sauce.
So intrigued we are with both wines that these are certainly early contenders for our Top 21 Wines of 2024!