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Rioja Alavesa tasting notes

text and photographs © 2011 Tom Cannavan

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

Viñedos de Páganos

UK agent: Justerini & Brooks. See all stockists on wine-searcher. El Puntido sells for around £27-£45 depending on vintage, La Nieta for around £60 - £75.

El Puntido

Viñedos de Páganos, El Puntido 2007
Young, tight, quite, but quite gamy nose, with meaty aromatics and a certain tobacco and herb character. The fruit is beautifully fresh, with just a little chocolaty, berry depth but tight with a lovely structure. Long and very well balanced, the oak just adding a spicy character to the finish, but fruit driving this. 91/100.

Viñedos de Páganos, El Puntido 2006
Tight, if anything more subdued aromas than the 2007, but a lovely incense-like refinement and very tight black cherry fruit. The concentration here is superb, with tight, cherry and black chocolate fruit, and very fine-grained tannins. The oak here is lovely and the juicy fruit quality gives it plenty of length and refinement. 91/100.

Viñedos de Páganos, El Puntido 2005
Intensely gamy, mineral, much more aromatic and much more expressive, with those animal notes and much more spice. The palate maintains that very keen edge, the ripe red fruits buttressed by those juicy tannins and that very fleshy, gamy quality, the acidity is very good and this retains great freshness. 93/100.

Viñedos de Páganos, El Puntido 2004
Spices and tightly-wound cherry fruit, not nearly so much of that gamey quality, beautifully rounded, cedary fruit, with graphite and some balsamic notes and lovely sense of balance. The palate has similarly intense, rounded and structured fruit, with real sweetness but lovely grainy tannins giving grip and a fine cedar and mineral finish giving a twist of energy and freshness. 94/100.

Viñedos de Páganos, El Puntido 2003
Lots of spice and cedar here, lots of graphite, and the fruit not too overripe for the vintage. The palate has delicious fruit sweetness, with a thick, quite plummy character and a touch of chocolate, but this is really well balanced, if a little shorter than the 2004 and less edgy. 91/100.

Viñedos de Páganos, El Puntido 2002
A little sweaty note, slightly like the 2007, the fruit not quite so fresh, with a slightly meaty, balsamic character. The fruit has lots of sweet meatiness on the palate, very good balance and nice overall impression with a spicy finish. 90/100.

Viñedos de Páganos, El Puntido 2001
Lovely dense colour still, with big, meaty, mineral nose, very like the 2004 in many ways, with that same fleshy richness but suggestion of freshness. The palate has superb fruit, with real ripeness and roundness, very expressive with those meaty, balsamic and spice notes and aromatic herbal notes too. Lots of tobacco and spice into a long finish, with very good, fine tannins and that smoky, but grippy finish. 94/100.

La Nieta

Viñedos de Páganos, La Nieta 2008
Lovely balsamic and mineral nose, intensely concentrated graphite-edged black fruit, shrugging off the oak, which is all medium to medium+ toast. Terrific minerality, dried herbs and glossy black cherry. Concentrated palate too, with such silky tannins and sweet, complex fruit filling the mouth. Lovely spice and definition, in a terrific wine with power, but lovely balance and precision. 94/100.

Viñedos de Páganos, La Nieta 2007
Fabulous blue/black intensity of colour. Seems even fresher on the nose than the 2008, with lovely tobacco and spice notes in the background, and a very breezy minerality. Little ash and stony notes, even a touch of greenness which works very well. The palate has that balsamic richness, with less complexity than the 2008, but lovely precision and length yet again. Juicy, savoury tannin and very pure and long blackcurranty fruit. 92/100.

Viñedos de Páganos, La Nieta 2006
Very black colour. This has a kirsch-like, lifted cherry fruit quality with little floral hints. Very fragrant wine, with lovely cedary oak and the fresh raspberry-like fruit. The palate is deliciously slippery and silky, with the liquorice and tight balsamic notes underpinning and gripping, but the sweet fruit driving through. Great concentration here again, but not at the expense of elegance. 93/100.

Viñedos de Páganos, La Nieta 2005
Hints of that meaty, balsamic quality again, with some subtle Oriental spices. Quite plummy and meaty, with a plum quality to the fruit. The palate has fantastic presence: an espresso richness to the tannins and silky texture. The mouth-feel is lovely, the edge of charry oak and the freshness of the acidity giving this length. Concentrated and long, and focused into a superb finish. 94/100.

Viñedos de Páganos, La Nieta 2004
Terrific nose: very alluring, and very smoky and vanilla-licked, with the fruit quite meaty, a plum skin note and a touch of dried marjoram. The palate has a lovely nervosity, the edge of liquorice and plum skin grip, sinewy, tight tannins and beneath, the sweet opulence building on the mid palate. Very nice balance and length here, with delicious fruit and great length again, the spicy, meaty substance just lightened in this vintage. 95/100.

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