In our view, and that of many much more expert in the area, Rioja Alavesa is the pick of the three Rioja communes. Protected from the north by the Sierra de Cantabria and the fertile Ebro Valley to the south, its limestone-based soil is particularly poor. That’s a good thing for vines. It means they must work harder and dig deeper for nutrients, and with judicious planting – low vine density and wide-spacing between rows – higher quality and better varietal expression.
In the heart of Rioja Alavesa, in the village of Elvillar de Álava, Fernando Meruelo and Félix Revuelta have created Lar de Paula, bringing the best of traditional practices in line with modern equipment, facilities and winemaking techniques.
The winery itself has been built with a single purpose in mind: transforming the finest grapes into great wine through a process in which excellence is the primary concern. Temperature controls, stainless steel tanks, exhaustive monitoring at every stage – everything is geared towards the optimum evolution of their wines.
Parker’s just rated them too, check out those scores!
Best buy: Lar de Paula Crianza 2008 (€13.99) 100% Tempranillo aged in American and French oak for 12 months, this is an intense mix of black fruit, aromatic spices and toasty new wood.