Bryan MacRoberts, Laventura, Rioja. A whose-who of New Wave South Africa, making waves in Spain
Remember when, the leading names in Rioja started making wines in Priorat and Ribera del Duero and the cult wines that emerged from these new regions. With Priorat and Ribera del Duero now firmly established in the premium wine sector, imagine what would happen if the leading names in New Wave South Africa started making waves inside Rioja …
Albert Ahrens is part of the original Swartland Revolution starting out at Lammershoek with Craig Hawkins, he has subsequently worked vintages in Champagne, Priorat and the Rhône Valley and teamed up with Pieter Walser to create Blank Bottle. From the cellar at Ahrens Family wines in Wildepaardejacht, Bryan MacRoberts makes his Abbotsdale and signature ‘Tobias’ wines. So it should come as no surprise that the assistant wine maker to Eben Sadie in South Africa, has a Spanish project of his own.
Eben also has a project in Priorat and Bryan MacRoberts has worked vintages for Eben in Spain.
Laventura are some of the most authentic wines I’ve tried to come out of ultra-traditional Rioja. A region dominated by either large scale producers or vineyards divided and divided again by inheritance.
Bryan has managed to secure small parcels of old vines, so inaccessible to modern farm machinery that it has to be ploughed by mule and therefore of no interest to the mechanised producers. From his base in Logroño, and just like he did with the Swartland Independents, Bryan is quietly and passionately leading the way for a return to a fresher, more elegant and authentic style of wine. These are some of the most exciting wines to come out of Rioja in many a year.
The 2014 (his second vintage) is on the water, expected to land within a week. Don’t be afraid to stock up, these wines just work. Bryan is searching for a purer, more elegant, and ultimately more traditional style of Rioja that puts vineyard before cellar, he treats Tempranillo like a cooler climate grape in a cooler climate region.
LANAVE 2014 £199 per dozen
This wine is made from Tempranillo and Grenache grapes selected from small plots in Rioja. The grapes are de-stemmed and fermented and aged in Stainless steel for one year before being bottled. This wine has a light ruby red colour, perfumed nose full of fresh juicy red fruit, soft tannins and an elegant smooth finish. You can of course by six bottles, but it will not be enough!
Laventura Tempranillo 2014 £149 per six
80% Tempranillo from bush vines in Rioja Alavesa and 10% Grenache from Rioja Alta and 10% Grenache from Rioja Baja. Average age of the vines over 60 years old. Fermented in open fermenters with punch downs and aged in 500L used barrels. Fine and floral nose accompanied by figs, fennel and lemon grass. On the palate there is crunchy grippy red fruit with fresh acidity and soft tannins. Juicy and elegant with minerality and salinity that lingers on the palate. Pleasant long finish. Why not buy six bottle to drink now, and six bottles to age. £288 per dozen (Just £24 per bottle – SAVE £10 – Plus FREE STORAGE or DELIVERY)
ORANGE – SKIN CONTACT WHITE Laventura Malvasía 2014 £159 per six
High altitude single vineyard Malvasia hugging the Sierra Cantabria. The cool climate wards off botrytis and helps the grapes ripen late till they reach a golden red colour. Fermented as a red wine on skins for 3 weeks the wine is aged in a cement egg for one year without sulphur or wood or any additions. The nose is fruit dominated by oxidative fruit aromas such as apple and quince accompanied by sweet honey aromas. An interesting palate mix of flavours from ginger to apple cider backed by natural acidity and green herbs. Saline and grippy. Interesting orange wine that is well refined.
WHITE Laventura Viura 2014 £119 per six
This is an old-vine field blend from Rioja Alavesa consisting mostly of Viura, with a smattering of Garnacha Blanca, Malvasía Riojana (aka Alarije) and Calagraño (a grape banned in Rioja unless vines were planted before 1970). The vineyard, planted 80 years ago, is largely clay with some calcareous elements. 2014 was a warmer vintage expressed by the variety through natural fermentation and organic cultivation. Fermented in a 600 liters oak barrels. The wine is very floral on the nose, expressing geraniums, dandelions and fruits like pear, white peach and hints of lemon. On the palate, one notes the biscuit and cookie dough aromas from one year lees ageing without battonage in barrel. Integrated acidity maintains a rigid back bone backed by minerality and saltiness. Mouth watering.
Six of each (24 bottles) Logroño – Rioja Alavesa – Spain £499 – SAVE £27.50