Sierra de la Demanda Tinto
Alberto Orte found some very special vines and vineyards with which to compose the wines of Sierra de la Demanda. On the southern banks of the Ebro river, Alberto found north-facing old vine plantings that communicate incomparable minerality and focus. In the foothills of the mountains south of the Ebro, Alberto crafts Rioja that hearkens back to a much older tradition of Rioja winemaking, emphasizing specificity of terroir, elegance and balance. Using some of the oldest, highest altitude vines in the region necessitates painstaking work but yields uncommon results. Indeed, most vintages this vineyard is among the last to be harvested in all of Spain, let alone Rioja – sometimes extending into November to achieve phenolic ripeness. This extreme hang time lends grace, profound depth and complexity to the Sierra de la Demanda wines. For the most part, vineyard owners in this area are farmers who sell off their fruit to larger producers. Alberto Orte controls the fruit for Sierra de la Demanda from budbreak to bottle, showcasing the profound minerality and precision of this unique terroir.
WHAT MAKES THIS WINE UNIQUE? A pure, precise Rioja wine produced in the highest elevation vineyards in Rioja, on north-facing slopes South of the Ebro. Ancient vines of Garnacha planted in 1930. Vines are tended in mineral soils of silica, which are very rare in Rioja.
RATING HISTORY: 2014 92JS; 2013 95JS
GRAPE: 75% Garnacha, 20% Tempranillo, 5% Viura. Sustainably grown vines planted in 1930. Tended in red silica soil at 700 m (2, 296 ft) elevation
PAIRING SUGGESTIONS: Sierra de la Demanda makes a great match with salmon or other fatty fish, roasted chicken, duck and other game birds, casseroles or, of course, stews like beef bourguignon.
VINIFICATION AND AGEING: Harvest takes place during the first week of November. These are indeed the last vineyards to be harvested in the Rioja region. After 48 hours of cold maceration and 28 days of whole cluster fermentation. Once fermentation is finished the wine is aged in French oak barrels, out of which the first 6 months the wine is exposed to its own lees.
PRODUCTION: 234 cases
LOCATION, SOIL, CLIMATE: Organically grown vines planted from 1930. Tended in silica soil at 700 m (2,296 ft) elevation, which is 400ft higher than the vineyards of Rioja Alta. Average temperatura during the Aptil - October growing season: 16.3C (61.5F). Annual rainfall: 465 mm (18.3')
TASTING NOTES: An exotically perfumed bouquet evokes ripe black and blue fruits, peppery spices and fresh flowers, with a touch of pipe tobacco in the background. Gently sweet and floral on the palate, offering intense blueberry and black raspberry flavors that tighten up on the back half. Energetic, precise wine with strong closing lift and spicy persistence; subtle tannins build slowly and add shape.
All photos: Friederike Paetzold