Finca Allende Tempranillo 2011

Finca Allende 2011 Tempranillo

91 Points, Michael Rockich, AppellationsTen

We have reviewed wines from Miguel’s other winery, Finca Nueva, where he makes his so-called “fun wines”.  See my reviews for his 2014 Tempranillo Crianza, 2017 Viura, and 2019 Rosado.  Now we are looking towards his other winery, Finca Allende.

Hillside town of Briones, Rioja Alta


Miguel Ángel de Gregorio founded Finca Allende and located it in the hillside town of Briones, near the center of Rioja Alta.  The winery resides in a 17th century manor in the medieval village square on a hill rising nearly 100 meters above the surrounds.

Miguel Ángel de Gregorio, proprietor

Allende’s philosophy states that wine is made in the vineyard.  Mr. Gregorio is renowned for his earnest devotion to natural farming practices and the preservation of Rioja Alta’s terroir while seeking the utmost expression from both vine and terroir.

In addition to his sensitivity for the vines, there is no doubt that Miguel also knows a few things about oenology and how cellar practice applies in crafting quality wines.  He has been noted for his extraordinary learning capabilities and has not hesitated to upset standard practices in Rioja winegrowing.  Things that Mr. Gregorio has said reflect these facts and indicate that he is a master of his trade:  “I treat wines with absolute delicacy” and “A winery is not a building, it is a philosophy, a place where we strive to go further.”  Mr. Gregorio’s achievements have earned him international recognition.

In Rioja Alta and Rioja Alavesa the better vine sites face northwest on soils of clay over limestone.  The wines at these higher elevations are regarded as being the brightest and most elegant, whereas wines from Rioja Oriental (Baja), produce wines with rich full body and darker color.

Allende mule working the vines

Allende’s estate vineyard is comprised of 52 hectares of vines first planted over 75 years ago on undulating hills in the optimum north, northeast and northwest directions producing superior grapes.  Tempranillo is the main planting in the estate vineyard at 40.5 ha, accompanied by 1.5 ha of Graciano, as well as spots of Garnacha, Viura, and Malvasía.

Allende bush vines

Grapes for this 100% Tempranillo were manually harvested from bush vines averaging 46 years of age planted in clay-dominated soil with gravel below.  Sustainable cultivation is employed with organic fertilizers and no herbicides. The majority of Allende’s estate vines are worked by mules.

Allende Cellar

At the winery before fermentation takes place grapes were thoroughly scrutinized with triple-selection by hand.  Uncrushed bunches were destalked and placed in stainless for a cold preferment maceration at 5º C lasting six days. This was followed by fermentation at 28º C for 10 days with three pump-overs daily yielding 13.5% alcohol.  Total skin-time was16 days.  The must exited the tanks by gravity-flow, and was augmented by vertically pressing the pomace.  Malolactic fermentation was performed in stainless.  Élevage took place with a 14 month stay in Bordelaise French oak incurring racking every four months.  The wine was bottled without clarification or filtration.

Ruby-red in color with brick hues, Finca Allende’s 2011 Tempranillo is an excellent example of aged wine.  It reveals abundant rich fruit, invigorating acidity, vivid color, and solid structure.  And that’s not all.  The wine is complete in delivering all the right stuff!  It offers complexity, intensity, good balance, length, and impact!  Moreover, it is inviting and rewarding.  Aromas of rich red berries are followed by pungent notes of spices and tobacco leaves.  The palate displays notes of red-currants, mineral, black tea, chocolate, and dried herbs.  Allende’s 2011 Tempranillo delivers elevated acid and an aged multi-dimensional character while the very fine coating tannins are ripe and well integrated.  Definitely a Rioja showing power, extract, and a stout frame.

For my money, Miguel’s wines especially demonstrate characteristics of inviting flavor profiles with noteworthy density.  His wines exude quality, and he seems to possess the ability to coax the best out of any grape.  Likewise, grapes seem to respond to Miguel’s touch by delivering quality wine because he has demonstrated that he cares.  Miguel’s wines display another nice positive.  If I save part of an opened bottle for the next day, I can rest assured it won’t bring tired fruit and oxidation.  It will be at least as good as the day before.

I opened this wine nearly a day ahead, pouring part into a covered glass, to ensure the fruit showed as fresh as possible.  This is, after all, a nine-year-old, and indeed, the fruit appeared more youthful and richer than I had imagined.  Experiment with your own taste.  You may simply pour the glasses their portions a few hours ahead, or you may not feel you need this procedure at all.

I paired this Tempranillo with rotisserie chicken, roast garlic clove, and Meyer lemon sections.  The intensity, flavors, savory character, and acidity levels were in similar ranges.  Flavors resonated while attributes complimented each other resulting in a fine match.

About $27
Imported by Trinchero Family Estates, Heritage Collection
(1) Credit, Finca Allende photos
A sample for review

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