La Antigua Clasico Blanco

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La Antigua Clasico is one of Alberto Orte’s most enduring history projects. Inspired by the style of winemaking that was popular in the first half of the 20th century, Alberto seeks to emphasize freshness and minerality, leading to potential for a long-lived wine. To that end, he has found old vine, heirloom-clone Viura and Garnacha Blanca in Sierra de la Demanda, south of the Ebro river in Rioja Alta. The northern facing, high-altitude vineyards experience cooler temperatures and less sunshine, resulting in grapes that ripen more slowly, showcasing flavors of greater balance and focus. Indeed – this area is one of the last to harvest in all of Western Europe! In addition to the cooler climate, La Antigua is a place where the parcels are extremely small and steep. This terrain is almost impossible to mechanize, and all vineyard work needs to be done by hand. Alberto has complete viticultural control over these vineyards, ensuring unity of purpose between the vineyard and the winery. The result is a wine of precision and elegance – fresh and beautiful to drink now, with enormous potential for longevity. The La Antigua Blanco also pays homage to history in another unique way - some of the barrels for the Blanco are allowed to develop flor, replicating the flavor profile found in some traditional Riojas which were allowed to have Manzanilla or Fino added to the blend to add structure and stability. Antigua Clasico Blanco is a brilliant historical specimen as well as a wine of unique place.

Antigua Clasico Blanco is a history project, inspired by the white Rioja winemaking of 19th and early 20th century Rioja. Made from heirloom clones of old-vine Viura, Garnacha Blanca and Tempranillo Blanco. Partially aged under flor, Antigua Clasico Blanco showcases a style that is savory and umami-rich.

2014 91VM; 2013 92JS

70% Viura, 20% Garnacha Blanca, 10% Tempranillo Blanco. Vines planted since 1965. Tended in red silica soil at 700 m (2,296 ft) elevation.

14 months in a blend of 80% French and 20% American oak barrels; a blend of new and used. 10% of the wine is aged under natural flor from the same Rioja origin.

530 cases

Sustainably grown vines planted since 1965. Tended in red silica soil at 700 m (2,296 ft) elevation.

Green-tinged gold. Meyer lemon, toasted grain, ginger and white flowers on the mineral-accented nose. Fleshy and dry on the palate, offering concentrated citrus and orchard fruit flavors and complicating notes of tarragon and honey. Shows a suave blend of richness and vivacity. Finishes spicy and very long, featuring lingering notes of bitter pear skin and candied ginger. -- Josh Raynolds.