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Decanter Score: 97 Open Decanter Score: rating modal
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Founded in 1975, Decanter is the oldest consumer wine publication in the UK. Engaging with wine lovers in over 100 countries around the globe, Decanter is the world's leading wine media brand with a total monthly reach in excess of 2.2 million.

Haro, Rioja, Spain... end of the 19th Century. This was a time when Rioja was welcoming French winemakers from Bordeaux in search for grapes and wine to replace theirs, having been destroyed by phylloxera. Trade brought along an exchange of knowledge from which both locals and visitors benefited. One of those Rioja winemakers was Felipe Ugalde, a curious fellow from Haro who, spurred by his French colleagues' experience, decided that his objective had to be making wines of superior quality that transmitted the values of Rioja's terroir.

He founded the original Bodegas Ugalde cellar and brand in 1882 which he spread to other countries by also establishing the region's first export alliance with other Rioja winemakers. He was the pioneer of the exports of wines from Rioja, the first winemaker who promoted sales to the international markets. Over 130 years later, his legacy lives only ten kilometers away from Logroño, spread among the first vineyards planted in the property.

Nestled between the North shore of the Ebro River and the Eastern-most skirts of the Sierra de Cantabria, Bodegas Ugalde´s team had to decide what kind of wines they would make. For that, they looked back on history and were inspired by Ugalde's vision of 1882: Bringing Rioja terroir, as the new team understands it, into each bottle of Bodegas Ugalde.

Comprised of Tempranillo, Graciano and Mazuelo, The grapes for this wine come from a vineyard of over 50 years of age situated on the slopes of the Sierra de Cantabria, as well as from a 15-year-old one placed within the estate. The work in the vineyard has been specifically focused on achieving a healthy fruit with a total phenolic ripeness. This has resulted in a well-structured wine on the palate with a powerful nose full of fruit aromas. The Reserva spends 2 years in American oak, with 5% in French oak, before spending an additional 12 months ageing in bottle before release. We find a bit more depth and gravitas with the Reserva, as is to be expected, but the quality of this and the Crianza are very high.

The nose finds red fruits again taking the lead, but they're a bit darker, riper, with the cherries and strawberries adding plum and black cherry notes. The savory elements are a bit more pronounced with the baking spices, earthiness and flecks of minerality finding a lovely roasted meat note and wafts of rose petal. Well-integrated tannins and acidity build upon the harmony… and this wine definitely sings! Upon tasting, the gorgeous red fruits have the first solo with a mix of red berries, plums, cherry compote and strawberry tea. Secondary notes of baking spices and hillside garrique, echoing the scents first nosed, are an ideal chorus as the finish lasts and lasts, overlapping the components into one classy Rioja.

The voices, flavors and scents, blend perfectly, rhapsodically, as the tune they produce is classic, lovely and memorable.

DECANTER 97 POINTS - "An ethereal and classic style with tertiary semi-dried plum, strawberry, cedar, mocha and coffee oak aromas and flavours, silky tannins and well-integrated zesty acidity. A magnificent wine that needs spicy lamb chop."
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