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Horizonte de Exopto

Horizonte de Exopto

Horizonte de Exopto is a wine whose character conveys lush black and blue fruits that are focused and pure. With silky tannins and a persistent mineral note, the wine strikes an ideal balance of depth and finesse. In his small cellar in the Rioja DOC, winemaker Tom Puyaubert makes Horizonte de Exopto with grapes from eight tiny parcels, which cover a total area of 2.45 hectares (6 acres). About 850 cases are produced each year. The fruit used for Horizonte comes from vines planted in the 1950's and 60's. Located in Rioja's historic town of Laguardia, Exopto Cellars produces miniscule quantities of three highly sought-after cuvées: Bozeto, Horizonte and Exopto. Each of the three wines is a different blend of traditional Rioja grapes; Tempranillo, Graciano and Garnacha. Horizonte de Exopto is the product of Rioja's finest terroirs, grapes, traditional and modern winemaking methods, and a talented winemaker. With the identity of a clean, pure Rioja wine, Horizonte de Exopto is a modern take on Rioja's finest traditions and is often referred to as "geography in a bottle."

What makes this wine unique?

Just 850 cases are made. The 10% of Graciano in the blend of this wine helps to provide years of ageing potential. Horizonte showcases the purity of Rioja in a clean, elegant fashion.

Rating history:

2013 90WA; 2012 90RP; 2011 91IWR; 2008 90+RP; 2008 94TP (Tasting Panel) & 90+RP; 2007 91RP; 2006 93+RP; 2005 91RP


80% Tempranillo, 10% Garnacha, 10% Graciano. Organically and sustainably grown vines planted from 1950 - 1960. Tended in clay and limestone soil from 450 - 500 m (1,476 - 1,640ft) of elevation. This is a vegan wine.

Pairing Suggestions:

Strong, bold flavors and the caramelized flavors that come from grilling or roasting beef are good pairings for Horizonte de Exopto. Grilled flank steak with Mediterranean rub, grilled hanger steak with chimichurri sauce, or carne asada burritos. Roast chicken seasoned with Cajun spices or smoked pimenton Spanish paprika are also very good matches.

Vinification and ageing:

During the second half of October, the grape bunches are hand harvested and placed into small 15 kg boxes for protection during transport. At the winery, 70% of the bunches are de-stemmed and the other 30% are lightly crushed. Maceration lasts for 4 days at 41F. Fermentation takes place in small 3,200-liter cement tanks utilizing the indigenous yeasts of the grapes. After fermentation, the skins stay in contact with the wine in extended maceration for 20 days. Malolactic fermentation and ageing is performed in 225-liter French oak barrels, with a high toast. In addition to being part owner, winemaker and vineyard manager at Exopto Cellars, Tom Puyaubert also works for the Bordeaux cooperage Saury. Tom feels that when the toast of the barrels is high, the wines are more pure and fruit-driven because the high toast burns off all the aggressive, oaky aromatic compounds commonly associated with coffee, cocoa, vanilla, etc. The wine is aged for 12 months in oak barrels, 80% French and 20% American. To mitigate the potentially aggressive nature of 100% new barrels, the wine is aged in one-third new, one-third year old and one-third two-year-old barrels.


850 cases (6 pack)

Location, Soil, Climate:

The vineyards are located in the Rioja region (Zone 3 and 4). The Graciano grapes come from Las Balsillas vineyard planted in 1980, located in the southern, warmer Rioja Baja subzone at 450 meters (1,476 ft.) elevation. The Tempranillo and Garnacha grapes come from the cooler Rioja Alta subzone where the vineyards are situated at 500 meters (1,640 ft.) elevation. The area has topsoil composed of clay and limestone above rocky and sandy subsoils. The cool temperatures result in a longer ripening period and the soil has good water retention, which prevents drought. The rocky and sandy subsoils are low in pH and poor in organic matter, which helps produce grapes with greater sensorial acidity. The lower yields produce smaller berries with greater flavor intensity. For 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, producing wines that are more fresh, more aromatic and with more expressive fruit flavors.

Tasting notes:

Decadent richness on the palate, fruit forward but with good depth of dark red fruit, softly textured, nicely structured with fine, ripe tannins and good lenght. Fruit driven. Delicious.

Alcohol Content:


UPC Code:


Tom Puyaubert

All photos: Friederike Paetzold