Spanish Wines from ARAEX Grands

The Authors with Javier Galarreta & Michel Rolland

In pre-Covid times we had lunch at Manhattan’s Tribeca Grill with Javier Ruiz de Galarreta, the founder and CEO of ARAEX Grands, and Michel Rolland, the French enologist who has influenced winemaking all over the world.  ARAEX Grands is a Spanish wine exporting firm. The purpose was to introduce their collaboration making R&G Rolland Galarreta wines. Recently, ARAEX send us the current vintage of the Rolland Galarreta Ribera del Duero wine along some other wines in the Araex portfolio. We review those wines below.

The Wines

The Gorka Izagirre Vineyard in Biscay

Gorka Izagirre 2019 G22 Bizkaiko Txakolina ($23) 92  Showing aromas and flavors of mature apple, pear, citrus and a hint of honeyed spice, the G22 has an especially appealing mouth feel. It’s full and leesy with bright acidity and excellent persistence. Great value, too! 100% Hondarrabi Zerratia destemmed, macerated, pressed and fermented followed by 8 months sur-lie with battonage for the first 3 months. Bottled 12 months after harvest. 13% alc.  Gorka Izagirre was established in 2005 by Michelin Star Chef Eneko Atxa and his uncle, Gorka Izagirre. Today, Gorka’s son Bertol Izagirre manages the winery, and José Ramón Calvo is the winemaker.

Altos de Rioja 2016 Reserva Rioja (Alavesa) ($24) 92  Opaque dark ruby. This is a very flavorful, ripe Tempranillo with a soft round mouth feel and good fullness and density of flavor on the palate. Suave tannins make this Rioja drinkable now. Great value in Rioja. 100% Tempranillo from 40-60 year old vines; regular battonage and malo in new oak barrels. Aged 24 months in 80% French and 20% American oak. 14% alc. The winemakers are Jean-Marc Sauboua and Héctor Gómez.

Manuel Quintano 2016 Selección Particular Rioja (Alavesa) ($23) 90   This Tempranillo from Rioja opens with scents of earth, leather and a hint of dried dark cherry. It’s full and silky in the mouth and flavorful with notable tannins on the mid-palate. Needs still more time for the tannins to soften, but I would drink now while there’s still nice fruit and pair it with rich food. 100% Tempranillo from 40+ year old vines; long fermentation in French oak casks and aged 16 months in French oak barrels. 14.5% alc.   Don Manuel Esteban Quintano y Quintano, a Catholic monk and a pioneer of modern Rioja, traveled to Bordeaux in the 1780s to learn the winemaking and barrel aging methods of Medoc and returned to Rioja to produced his first wine in 1790.   Today, Javier Cereceda is the winemaker.

Castillo Labastida Vineyard in Rioja

Rolland Galarreta 2018 R&G Ribera del Duero ($20) 93 A magnificent wine from Ribera del Duero showing hints of meat and bacon along with ripe dark fruit. Elegant on the palate with good density of flavor and firm tannins. Finishes with lingering notes of dark fruit and sweet oak. Definitely a food wine. 85% Tempranillo and 15% Merlot from 45+ year old vines from Finca La Revilla at 960m altitude in Piñel de Arriba; matured 12 months in new French and American oak barrels. 14.5% alc.

Winemaker Michel Rolland


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