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 a few years ago. 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) 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. 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)!
Tasting notes: Pale straw colour. Good texture. Initially got some floral notes. The finish had good length and had citrus notes. Faint secondary notes of oak.
Region of Origin – Rioja, Northern Spain
Wine Colour – White
Price – £6.50 reduced from £8 at the time of writing
Where do I get it from? Sainsbury’s (widely available)
Current Vintage – 2019
Producer – Elena Adell, Campo Viejo (Pernod Ricard)
Grape – Viura (86%) and Tempranillo Blanco (14%) – Unchanged proportions
Country – Spain
Verdict – good wine at a good price
Food Pairing: Gazpacho, tapas.