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Rioja Alavesa tasting notes

text and photographs © 2011 Tom Cannavan

These notes accompany our in-depth feature on Rioja Alavesa.

Bodegas Lar de Paula

UK Agent: Stratfords. See all stockists on wine-searcher.

Lar de Paula, Rioja Blanco 2009
Horrible yellow synthetic cork. Oak-aged for 70-100 days with battonage. 60% Viura, 40% Malvasia. 12,000 bottles. Nice nose, with soft vanilla and toast, some quite crisp melon fruit beneath. Plenty of oak on the palate giving rather too much vanillin character, but good freshness and acidity, the melon fruit and lime quality coming through. 86/100.

Lar de Paula, Madurado 6 Meses en Bodegas 2008
Aged six months in oak, but that is not an official classification, so this has the generic Rioja label (rather than 'Crianza', 'Reserva', etc.) A touch of briar and a little bit of toasty barrel, the fruit is nicely judged: sweet and ripe, with lots of berry richness and a nice hint of chocolate. 86-87/100.

Lar de Paula, Rioja Crianza 2007
100% Tempranillo, 14 months in oak and six in bottle. The nose has a little touch of gamy, earthy quality, with some tobacco and fine cherry and red fruit. The palate is perhaps a touch dilute, the spice of the barrels overtaking the finish, but has a tobacco and red fruit elegance too. 86/100.

Lar de Paula, Rioja Reserva 2005
Aged in slightly older barrels for 18 months, and aged in bottled 18 months. From 40-year-old vines, a selection of the best. Nice oak here, a gentle toastiness and suggestion of espresso. The gamy quality and tobacco touch comes through, and a ripe blackberry fruit. The palate has a savoury, meaty quality to the fruit, but the cherry acidity again lifts this and the tannins are quite refined. Balanced, in a dry, savoury style. 89/100.

Lar de Paula, Rioja Vinedos Viejas 2005
50-year-old vines, all Tempranillo, 14.5%. Harvested at 30hl/ha. All in French oak, almost all of it new. Very attractive nose, with a cedary refinement and a cassis sweetness into chocolate and balsamic richness, with just a hint of espresso. On the palate it has very good fruit sweetness, with nice silky tannins and texture, the fruit leading seamlessly into a spicy, but juicy finish. 92/100.

Lar de Paula, Rioja Merus.4
9,000 bottles, from 60-year-old vines, not produced every year. Malolactic in barrique, then into large oak tank with some micro-ox, then into new French oak for 12 months. All Tempranillo. Very refined, very harmonious nose, with discreet black fruits, touches of cedar and black plum, some savoury balsamic notes, very silky palate too, with torrefaction notes and delicious silkiness of black fruit. 92/100.

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