Rioja, Spain, Spain.
Rioja is a region steeped in tradition and technique, defined in large part by its intricate aging system. Though this system forms the bedrock of the region’s wine identity, it is by no means a guarantee of quality, placing all the emphasis on maturation times, and little to none on place and practice. As in other regions in Europe, where regulations can prove restrictive and counter-intuitive, Rioja is home to a growing band of producers that champion terroir above all else, expectations be damned. Clos Ibai is one such producer.
Since establishing the estate in 2014, Daniel Frías and Xabier Kamio have deepened their understanding of their cadre of high-elevation, low-yielding sites scattered throughout Alavesa. They work tirelessly to improve soil health, using grass and cover crops to build diversity and enrich organic matter. They have also expanded their holdings to seven hectares and are now certified organic, with biodynamic certification expected in 2024. Small-batch experimentation continues to be an estate signature; expect a single-site Graciano and skin-contact white to join the ranks in the not-too-distant future.
In the cellar, the boys keep a very close eye on things but try to stay out of the way: lots of natural, whole cluster ferments in Flexitank eggs, stainless steel and oak barrels, with plenty of solids and aging on lees. And the wines? Well, if you’re not yet familiar with the wines of Clos Ibai, you can expect pure, transparent and insanely drinkable wines. Delicious Rioja, just not as you know it.
Clos Ibai Rioja Garnacha Blanca
Sourced from old vines in the certified-organic Ladera de Regoyos vineyard in Navaridas.
The certified-organic Ladera de Regoyos vineyard in Navaridas. Sitting at a lofty 450 metres, the site is co-planted with Garnacha Blanca and Tempranillo, and the vines sit on steep slopes of calcareous clay
The fruit is picked by hand and pressed as whole bunches to concrete. The wine then matures on lees for 10 months.
Clos Ibai Rioja Blanco
Viura (90%), with the balance made up of a mix of Calagraño, Malvasía, Palomino and Garnacha Blanca.
Both sites are farmed organically, sit at high altitude (480-500 metres) and are home to old vines (planted in 1965 and 1945 respectively) on calcareous clay.
Sourced from two terraced vineyards in the Baños de Ebro zone—La Caseta in Laguardia and Valdesanjuan in Navaridas
The fruit is picked by hand and pressed as whole bunches to 900-litre Flexitank eggs for natural fermentation. The wine then matures for 10 months.
Clos Ibai Rioja Tinto
85% Tempranillo with the balance Garnacha Blanca, Viura and Malvasía.
The fruit hails from three certified-organic, high-elevation sites (440-470 metres) in the Baños de Ebro zone: Ladera de Regoyos in Navaridas; El Caño in Navaridas; and Posadero in Elciego, planted in 1980, 1981 and 1965 respectively.
The fruit was harvested by hand and fermented as whole clusters in steel and concrete tanks. The wine was then pressed and matured in a combination of steel, concrete and neutral oak for 11 months.
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