November 25, 2016

Inspired Rioja by a True Icon

Basilio Izquierdo,
Laguardia, Rioja Alavesa


2014 'Acodo', Rioja Blanco
Retail:  $59.95 / btl
  (6 btl/cs)

2009 'B de Basilio', Rioja Tinto
Retail:  $94.95 / btl  (6 btl/cs)


About Basilio Izquierdo

Basilio Izquierdo is a truly iconic Rioja winemaker, responsible for dozens of true classics that bring Rioja aficionados to tears, such as the great 'Imperial' and 'Viña Real' Gran Reservas of the ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s, and the mythic Contino ’82 Reserva.  In 2006, after more than 32 years as head winemaker at CVNE, he started his own personally inspired winery, Bodegas Basilio Izquierdo in a garage style cooperative winery space in the town of Laguardia within the Rioja Alavesa sub-zone of Rioja. His goal: to explore some of the lost art of Rioja winemaking in conjunction with his knowledge of the latest techniques and materials. In that first year his white wine production consisted of one new French oak barrel. Since then he has expanded to an annual production of about 5000 bottles of barrel aged red and 700 bottles of barrel fermented white.

Basilio's understanding of many of the lost traditions of Rioja form the basis for his methods and philosophy.  He uses only grapes from old vine vineyards planted with massally selected vines pre-dating modern clones, which contributes to their character and complexity. Masal selection involves using a vineyard's existing plant material when replanting, thus maintaining the genetic heritage of the vineyard.  Honouring earlier traditions, he employs more Garnacha in the Red and Garnacha Blanca in the White, which lend a juicy, fruity suppleness to the Red and rich tropical notes to the White, respectively. However, underneath their fruit laden exteriors these wines offer beautiful and harmonious structure that makes them worthy of long aging.


Basilio 2014 'Acodo' Blanco

Acodo White (80% Viura / 20% Garnacha Blanca) is a lively, fragrant wine with a mix of pear, golden apple and citrus scents and flavors. The palate is succulent and smooth with nuanced oak tones, ample body and a lingering finish. Acodo is made with grapes from vineyards planted with massally selected vines predating modern clones, which contributes to its character and complexity.

After alcoholic fermentation in stainless steel, the wine is aged on lees in tank mainly, but during the summer months is racked to 225L French oak barrels (previously used for 'B de Basilio' white) and the wines ages there on lees for the three summer months.

The wine 'Acodo' is named after a traditional technique used in old vine vineyards, called acodadura. Rather than abandoning a weak or damaged old vine or planting a new replacement vine in the middle of an old vine vineyard, the acodadura technique is employed. It entails uprooting the failing vine. And then one branch of an immediately adjacent old vine is run to the ground, and looped over to the location of the uprooted vine—as illustrated by the second 'o' in 'Acodo' on the label. With this technique, the looped branch will take root and become a grape producing vine. Importantly, this allows an old vineyard to keep producing grapes of similar old vine character and from dwindling down in productivity over the years from loss of vines.


Basilio 2009 'B de Basilio' Tinto

93 points - Luis Gutierrez, The Wine Advocate
"The 2009 B de Basilio feels quite classical and serious, a little backward and with a nose mixing ripe red and black fruit, sweet spices, smoke and hints of leather. It is quite harmonious, with rustic elegance. The palate is medium-bodied, really polished with fine-grained tannins that show the hand of a great, classical winemaker. This wine has the stuffing and balance for great development in bottle."

Basilio's flagship red wine from old vines in heritage vineyards may not be a 'restaurant' wine.  Youthful and succulent, it seems quite 'modern' in it's exhuberant childhood.  Given 5-25 years, the wine will start to show it's true nature – a wise, thoughtful, deeply complex wine.  The cépage is 62% Tempranillo / 33% Garnacha / 5% Graciano.