Exopto is made by Tom Puyaubert in his cellar in the Rioja DOC. This wine is a clear example of what's possible when Rioja's best terroirs and grapes are combined with Rioja's finest traditional and modern winemaking methods by an extremely talented winemaker. The end result is a wine that can age for many decades. Exopto is a clean, modern interpretation of a traditional Rioja wine. Exopto, or "to desire greatly" in Latin, is the flagship wine of this cool garage wine producer. The 60% Graciano makes this impressive cuvee a unique wine that not only shows the added complexity of flavors with ageing, it also conveys a message of purity and beauty that is associated with fine, low production "Grand Cru" Riojas. If you're lucky enough to find this jewel, please keep in mind that only 680 cases are made for the world. Buy as much as you can and keep it in your cellar for 10-15 years before you uncork it! Exopto has quality equal to and drinks wines that cost over twice as much.
WHAT MAKES THIS WINE UNIQUE? In the manner of great Burgundies and Bordeaux, this wine blends power and finesse. Its large percentage of Graciano gives it the capability to age for 50 years. Less than 35 barrels are produced for the world! The three vineyards that make Exopto are all located within the Rioja Alta subzone.
RATING HISTORY: 2012 94WA; 2011 92+WA; 2010 94WS; 2009 92IWC; 2007 93RP; 2006 93IWC; 2005 92IWC
GRAPE: 60% Graciano, 30% Tempranillo, 10% Garnacha. Organically and sustainably grown vines planted from 1890 - 1975. Tended in limestone, clay and sandy soil at 500m (1,640ft) elevation. This is a vegan wine.
PAIRING SUGGESTIONS: This is a serious, structured wine. In addition to grilled beef steak with chimichurri sauce or braised short ribs, which the wine's heft and power will play well against, this wine's pronounced spicy, leafy edge from the Graciano will make it a great match for dishes that feature a little fat like roast duck, roast suckling pig and chuletas, or grilled baby lamb chops.
VINIFICATION AND AGEING: The wine undergoes malolactic fermentation in French oak barrels before six months in barrels with stirring of the lees (batonnage) and an additional eight months in barrels. The Graciano is aged in fine-grained oak to maximize oxygen contact while the Tempranillo and Garnacha are aged in medium-grained oak.
PRODUCTION: 500 cases (6 pack)
LOCATION, SOIL, CLIMATE: The vineyards are located in the Rioja DOC (Zone 3) within the Rioja Alta subzone at 500 meters (1,640 ft.) elevation. The three vineyards in Rioja Alta are La Llana, El Silo and San BartolomÃ©. The soils in the three vineyards that make up Exopto are composed of clay, limestone and gravel. Regarding the area's climate, the average temperature from April-October is 63.7F with 15.4 inches of yearly rainfall. The moderate warm days and cool nights of this Continental Atlantic climate forces the grapes to ripen slowly, resulting in wines that are fresh, aromatic and have pronounced fruit flavors.
TASTING NOTES: It's quite dark and shows the personality of the Graciano, intelligently balanced by a good amount of Tempranillo and just a dollop of Garnacha. Fruits of the forest, baking spices and pepper, licorice make its appearance in the nose while the medium-bodied palate shows tight tannins and lively acidity. Modern, well-made and true to its origins. It will require a bit of time in the bottle, but it should give years of pleasure.
All photos: Friederike Paetzold