2016 Nivarius Tempranillo Blanco
Region: Rioja Baja < Spain
Grape: Tempranillo Blanco
Vineyard/Cellar Stats: Organic farming; sandy soils of sedimentary origin, fermented in stainless steel; 13% ABV
The Nivarius folks are unique in Rioja because theirs is the first and only winery there produces only white wine. Which is possible because of the unique terroir after which the winery was named -- “nivarius” is Latin for “ice box”. The vineyards are located on north-facing slopes at 800 meters (2600 ft) above sea-level, a site so cold that for centuries it has been used to store snow for use as ice in the summer. Because of that, the white grapes retain their acidity and take long enough to ripen to let the aromas develop fully. The harvest starts in the second half of September and lasts well into October -- way late for whites in Spain. The winery and vineyards are located near the town of Naldus in the Rioja Baja subzone (although in this case, “baja” (=low) does not apply!) Tempranillo is the most common red grape variety of Spain and the main grape for red Rioja, but Blanco is not white wine made from red grapes -- its a spontaneous color mutation of the original red grape that was discovered in 1988. Nivarius is one of the few to produce a straight Tempranillo Blanco, which drinks like a refreshing cocktail of crisp green apples, minerals and white flowers on the rocks, literally – that decomposed sea shell/limestone character of the soil comes through loud and clear.