De La Riva Winery Jerez | Spanish Wine Lover

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WINERIES

Ramiro Ibáñez (Cota 45) and Willy Pérez (Bodegas Luis Pérez) are arguably the most dynamic winemakers in the Sherry Triangle. In addition to managing their own personal projects, they share an interest in unravelling and recovering the history of the wines and soils of Jerez (they have been writing their forthcoming book Los Sobrinos de Haurie for years).

In 2017 they decided to go one step further and recover the historic and renowned brand Manuel Antonio De la Riva, which had belonged to that family, owner of 53 hectares of vineyard in Macharnudo. Domecq, who owned other famous brands such as Palomino & Vergara, Terry or Agustín Blázquez, bought the De La Riva brand in the 1970s. After the dismemberment of Domecq, the brand ended up in the hands of the multinational Beam Global before it was acquired by Ramiro and Willy.

With this joint project they seek to recover old vinifications and traditional pagos (vineyards) such as Balbaína or Marcharnudo, where the house's historic wines were born, such as Fino Tres Palmas, Viña Sabel and Fino La Riva. "We are completely open-minded here," explains Willy. "Even though they may be fortified, great wines have traditionally been made in Jerez, and the idea is to be able to embrace a different style of wines from those we make in our personal projects".

With labels that resemble the originals, Willy and Ramiro have released four wines so far. The first vintage of the excellent white wine La Riva Macharnudo (400 bottles, €36) was 2016 and was made with 100% Palomino grapes bought at the El Notario vineyard in Macharnudo Alto. After sunning them for eight hours to favour the style of structured wines that De La Riva used to make, Willy and Ramiro kept the wine in oak butts for ten months under a veil of flor. After Bodegas Luis Pérez purchased La Escribana and San Cayetano, two estates on the Valcargado hill in Macharnudo, the De La Riva project is expected to reach a new dimension as it will be able to supply more grapes to marginally increase production (the 2016 vintage was sold out in a few months).

Fino La Riva (1,500 bottles, €27) comes from Balbaína Alta and has been aged for 10 years in criaderas and soleras. Only one saca a year is done so it is a concentrated wine, in the traditional Jerez style, but it maintains great freshness and sapidity.

As part of their Almacenista range, they are gradually buying soleras with the intention of ensuring their survival. "The aim of this project is to have fun and to do things together," explains Willy. So far they have released very limited quantities of two wines.

La Riva Oloroso Viejísimo, from Balbaína Baja (1,300 bottles of 375ml, €105) comes from a solera from the now defunct Cuvillo & Cía in El Puerto de Santa María. This Oloroso wine was only topped up with must from their vineyard in Balbaína Baja. With the crisis of the 1980s, the winery was forced to give this wine as payment to an architect from Jerez who kept it in the family home, without topping it up, for almost 40 years. When Willy and Ramiro discovered this wine, the volume of half the solera had evaporated, and what was left was, in Willy's words, "like a knife". Of the 12 butts in the solera, they selected the ones with the most finesse and balance.

La Riva Moscatel Viejísimo Loma Baja (120 bottles of 375ml, €210) is, according to Willy, "a truly unique sweet wine. It comes from a family reserve of Moscatel Pico Plata Añejo that the Hermanos Florido managed to preserve before the sale of the winery and the wines to Domecq in the 1970s. When Willy and Ramiro discovered this wine, there were barely 50 litres left so it is a finite wine and without continuity. Its concentration and intensity are impressive and it still maintains its acidity in spite of having been in the solera for 80 years.

They recently added to their range a Manzanilla Fina (3,500 bottles) and a limited edition of Manzanilla Pasada (2,500 bottles) and Pedro Ximénez (350 bottles of 37.5cl).

TASTING NOTES

M. Antº de la Riva Fino Balbaína Alta

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