Bodegas Exopto: Raising the bar in Rioja
More From: Curious Wines
Posted July 19th, 2012 by Matt Kane
Finding a Rioja winery who is willing to sell is easy. Finding one that doesn’t necessarily follow the status quo (different in our eyes is always interesting and curious), yet still manages to excel at everything they do – that can be a little more difficult.
Introducing Bodegas Exopto, a winery that we feel lives by similar principles and values to ourselves. A commitment to being the best at what you can be through hard work and passion, and ultimately deliver pleasure and happiness to everyone you come in contact with.
Tom Puyaubert arrived in Spain at the beginning of 2000, leaving behind his native land of Bordeaux in order to increase sales in La Rioja for a famous French cooperage. In daily contact with the best winemakers in Spain, he became enthralled with the region, its vineyards, culture and whole way of life. In 2003, he decided to set up Bodegas Exopto so that he could strengthen his ties with the region and express its character through a range of distinctive, original white and red wines.
Tom continues to work in the selling of barrels made by the French cooperage Saury, which allows him to keep in contact with his customers and continually learn.
In total there are about ten hectares of vineyards which he works on and uses in the wine production. These ten hectares are divided up into fifteen “micro-parcels” that have bush-trained vines of considerable age, ranging from thirty to ninety years old.
The choice of vineyards is based on the idea of combination: different types of soil, orientation, altitude, and especially climate and terroir. All the Tempranillo vineyards are located in the town of Abalos, in the Rioja Alta, where the climate enjoys an Atlantic influence and is better suited to expressing the refinement and complexity of this variety.
The Garnacha and Graciano vineyards are mostly situated on the hillsides of Monte Yerga in the south of La Rioja. The vineyards there are influenced by the Mediterranean, an essential climatic condition for developing the Garnacha properly and for full maturity of the Graciano.
His winemaking practices are different, not only because of his use of the relatively rare Graciano variety, but he is keen on using concrete vats to ferment and age his wines, and instead of using American oak, he uses the best French oak he can get his hands on. If you’re in the right business, why not use the best?
El Bozeto, as its name (sketch, outline) suggests, was Tom’s first wine project representing all three red grape varieties. It’s young & fresh with an explosion of fruity aromas & touches of oak.
Jay Miller, Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate: “Exopto Cellars’ purple-coloured 2010 Bozeto de Exopto is a blend of 50% Garnacha, 40% Tempranillo, and 10% Graciano aged in oak for 9 months. Aromas of crushed pepper, balsam wood, violets, cinnamon, and blackberry inform the nose of a sweetly-fruited, vibrant, well-balanced Rioja. It can be approached now but has the stuffing to fill out for another 1-2 years. This outstanding value will deliver plenty of enjoyment through 2018+.” 90+ points
This was the first wine Tom made in 2003. Its base is Tempranillo, La Rioja’s principal grape variety, but made in a different style, highlighting his clear intention to create wines which are more modern, intense, highly-coloured and with just the right amount of oak.
Tom says, “to be perfectly frank, we have to admit that at the beginning there was only going to be one red wine: Exopto… but after our first vintage, we thought we could do it better or at least differently – hence the name ‘horizonte’ (horizon)… suggesting that EXOPTO might appear – but that’s another story…”
Silver Medal: Decanter World Wine Awards 2012
90 points: Peñin Guide
Wine & Food Horizen: Top 300 wines of Spain
In times past, it was quite usual to plant white variety vines in a red grape vineyard parcel, for reasons far removed from how things are conducted today, because the white grape varieties were more productive and could compensate for low yields from the poorest soils. In addition, the white varieties, more susceptible to disease, were able to predict the likely need for treating the rest of the red vineyard.
Viura, Malvasía and Garnacha Blanca were planted indiscriminately – therefore it is difficult to ascertain what percentage of each variety the wine has, due to the vines being scattered all over the red grape vineyard.
The winery’s Top of the Range – the purest expression of the Graciano variety. After three harvests spent getting to know the vineyards, their grapes and the best way of growing them, Tom reached the conclusion that the wine he so longed for would be Graciano-based. From its great complexity, aromatic finesse and freshness, this is a very distinctive wine to rival the greatest of fine wines.
Gold Medal: Concours Mondial de Bruxelles des Vins 2012