I met with the winemaker, Elena Adell at a Decanter magazine tasting at Michelin starred Ametsa with Arzak Instruction at Como The Halkin Hotel in Belgravia. Their white rioja was up for tasting and I really liked it. The Tempranillo grape has been used in red rioja for ever. Seventeen years ago a man called Jesus (unusually it was a man, as Campo Viejo is a predominantly female operation – as are many Argentinian wineries) tending the grapes found white bunches of grapes amidst the red; a mutation had occurred! They cultivated this mutation and grew it in ever-increasing quantities. They currently put the entire global production of Tempranillo Blanco into this wine, mixed with the standard Viura variety. The proportions are likely to change with each vintage as more becomes available. My favourite white rioja is probably CVNE’s offering – delicious and heady, perfectly suited to tapas dining. This is a real rival in my opinion – but not to everyone’s taste – my wife took a dislike to it, saying it had a sherry taste to it. I didn’t get that at all. Viura (also known as Macebeo) is one of the grapes used in cava. I think the addition of Tempranillo blanco adds complexity and length to the finish. ‘Mutation’ is quite common in grapes; Pinot Noir mutated to become Pinot Grigio (Pinot Gris in France) which then mutated to become Pinot Blanc (Pinot Bianco in Italy, Pinot Blanco in Spain). Another Pinot mutation is Pinot Meunier, used in many champagne blends with Pinot Noir (and Chardonnay)! The mutation of grapes is being studied (since 2007) by the International Grape Genome Program, partly as a result of the white Tempranillo mutation. I find this fascinating!
Tasting notes: Pale straw colour. Good texture. Got a little raw alcohol on the nose. Initially got some floral notes. The finish had good length and had citrus notes. Faint oak notes.
Region of Origin – Rioja, Northern Spain
Wine Colour – White
Price – £8
Where do I get it from? Sainsbury’s (widely available)
Current Vintage – 2016
Producer – Elena Adell, Campo Viejo (Pernod Ricard)
Grape – Viura (86%) and Tempranillo Blanco (14%)
Country – Spain
Points – 89
Food Pairing: Gazpacho, tapas.
The beautiful dining room at Ametsa with Arzak Instruction– the ceiling has test tubes filled with spices.
This beef dish, cooked by the Veuve Clicqout World’s Best Female Chef 2012 Elena Arzak, was utterly delicious!
Link – including 2 photos of me! http://www.decanter.com/sponsored/campo-viejorioja-wine-innovation-uncorked-319147/