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ARAEX brings ‘super-premium’ focus to Rioja Alavesa

Published:  19 March, 2019

Spanish wine group ARAEX Grands has unveiled a €300 Rioja from Alavesa in a move to create an iconic wine from the sub-region.

The first release, appropriately named Iconic 2016 Rolland & Gallarreta, is a collaborative project between consultant winemaker Michel Rolland and ARAEX owner Javier Ruiz de Galarreta, described as, “a cutting edge, super-premium Rioja, lifting the category to a level which doesn’t really exist today”.

Speaking to Harpers at Prowein, ARAEX’s Mikel Sáez de Vicuña said: “Rioja doesn’t really have wines priced at this level and there’s certainly nothing like this from Alavesa, so we thought we needed to create a reference to compete with iconic wines [from other regions] like Vega Sicilia and Pingus."

Describing the project as “ambitious”, and with only 9,000 bottles of the first vintage being released to market, the Iconic 2016 will be available in limited quantities in key export markets, including the UK.

Grapes for the wine, which is a Tempranillo-dominated blend with 10% Garnacha and 3% Graciano in the mix, are sourced from low-yielding, 40-plus year-old vineyards at altitudes of between 500 and 700 metres in Alavesa, with the wine aged in 100% new French oak.

“This is the brand, with Michel Rolland backing it, that can rise to the challenge of creating an iconic wine from the region,” said de Vicuña, adding that the company would also use the wine as a tool for raising awareness of the new quality-focused, site-specific emphasis in Rioja.

“We want to push the new classifications for Rioja – sub-region, village names, even single vineyard – and this wine will help bring attention to that,” said de Vicuña.