2015 Amaren Blanco Barrel-Fermented White, Rioja
Amaren Winery aims at producing wines of distinctively-high quality and “achieve excellence and pursue perfection”.
The wines are all released under the Rioja DOCa appellation and include manly reds: a Crianza, a vino de autor called ‘Angeles’, a Reserva, a varietal Graciano, and the barrel-fermented white tasted here.
This white wine from Rioja is a blend of 80% Viura, typical local white grape, and 20% Malvasia.
The grapes used for this wine come from the highest parts of vineyards where the soil is pour, demanding that the berries concentrate flavors and structure.
Even more importantly, the white must (grape juice) used to make this wine was fermented in new French oak barrels rather than in a tank. The Spanish would call it ‘Blanco fermentado en Barrica’. This often designates higher quality white wines, with fuller body and often further depth and structure.
At least on paper then, this has been made using the recipe for producing a solid quality wine.
But how does the 2015 Amaren Blanco actually taste?
This Rioja white comes in a bright lemon-yellow color of medium-intensity, rather pale for a wine fermented in barrel than tend to be more golden. It gives this wine a fresh crispy look gettng you to expect something on the fruity and refreshing side of things.
This impression seems to be quite confirmed on the nose. Aromas of fresh zesty lemon and a touch of grapefruit dominate. Some acacia honey, and a touch of grassiness underline the light and lifted profile.
Yes, the notes of oak are here too: vanilla, hazelnut and smoke. But they are discrete and well-integrated to the wine’s overall smell. They’re a bit more pronounced as you swirl the wine glass though.
The oak flavors become a lot more dominant on the palate, unexpectedly.
This is in fact a rather big, powerful, and concentrated white wine full of muscled body, solid acidity, and fine tannins from the wood.
Flavorwise, it’s also very pungent and dense: the lemon again (more in a confit form than by the smell), grassy fennel, roasted nuts and sweet spices literally explode in your mouth with great intensity.
Long powerful finish too on many layers of flavors, and a velvety slightly drying texture from a combination of silky oak tannins and the zesty grape ones.
An extremely well-made wine with a rare concentration of flavors.
It mixes in its core concentrated fruit and oak characters, and delivers a balanced yet very powerful combination of primary citrusy fruit characters together with plenty of secondary aromas from the barrel fermentation and aging.
The result is a full-bodied wine with the appropriate acidity to balance it out well, and a very enjoyable velvety texture.
When to drink?
This wine is good and enjoyable to drink now, as described: offering both freshness of the fruit and more sophisticated tones already.
Perhaps a year or two will perfect the oak integration without affecting its current zestiness.
For lovers of evolved tertiary flavors, this will certainly go a long way and stay alive for another 5 to 10 years if you’re feeling adventurous.
Wine & Food Pairing
A wine with such aromatic power that it will widstand rich and flavorsome dishes that would normally overwhelm most white wines, such as mushroom and cream poultry, or fish in herb and tomato-based sauce.
Learn more about Amaren and find all their wine reviews with our Bodegas Amaren winery profile: