From its tall, slender, one-of-a-kind bottle, with an eye-catching label, to the last drop of this elegant Rioja, the 1995 Viña Ijalba Murice Crianza is pure joy in a glass. Soft scents of fruit with hints of chestnut and vanilla pour from the glass, followed by the warm, fruity, exotic taste of fine Rioja on the palate. True to noble Riojan form, the Viña Ijalba finishes perfectly dry, its aftertaste lingering for nearly thirty seconds before waving good-bye. Although quite drinkable now, the Viña Ijalba Murice can be put down for at least three to four more years before achieving its ultimate expression of quality and maturity. In order to assure the consumer of the best possible results for storage and aging, Viña Ijalba uses double weight, ultraviolet resistant glass that provides the maximum protection against ambient light and changes in temperature during shipment. The bodega also uses the best natural cork, larger than the standard cork, to protect against rapid oxidation and spoilage. For optimum enjoyment, decant this wine at least forty-five minutes before serving, especially when young.
Like all fine Rioja, the Viña Ijalba Murice is best with grilled meats. It fares equally well with spicy, traditional Spanish dishes. One of our favorite Rioja accompaniments is a lightly seasoned sirloin steak on the grill. The more flavorful the dish, the finer this Rioja will show. We also suggest a feast of grilled lamb chops, brushed with garlic, olive oil, and rosemary to go with the Viña Ijalba. A roast loin of pork makes for another fine meal. For vegetarians, we suggest vegetable paella. In any case, take time to savor this lovely wine.
Viña Ijalba: A Warm Friendly Face Viña Ijalba is one of the youngest of all great Rioja bodegas. D. Dionisio Ruiz Ijalba who planted his vineyards on the slopes of an ancient quarry near Logrono in the Rioja Alta, La Rioja's finest viticulture district founded the estate in 1975. The winery, or bodega, owns nearly 70 hectares (175 acres) of vineyards in a number of parcels surrounding Logrono. These vineyards supply 100% of the production of the bodega, assuring that all of the Viña Ijalba's wines are estate bottled. All of the traditional grapes for red Rioja are cultivated at this fastidious estate, and each has been matched to the soil type and microclimate of individual vineyard sites; such is the attention to quality at Viña Ijalba. In addition, the bodega practices biodynamic farming, which means the viticulture at the estate is essentially organic, since no herbicide or chemical fertilizer is used. And, because the vineyards are planted on rocky ground, they must dig deep into the subsoil for water and nutrients, resulting in a pure intensity of flavor from low yields. Completed in 1991, the actual winery at the Ijalba estate is in the vanguard of modern winery design with the focus on the total quality of the production. The winery includes pneumatic presses, temperature controls, and complete air conditioning of the facility. Yet, there are no chemical products used during wine making and they have returned to traditional methods such as foot treading for the venerable Tempranillo grapes. Such practices provide for the maximum extraction of soft tannins and fruit intensity from the grapes. At this bodega, every grape variety is treated like a celebrity and every aspect of the production is individualized- service with a smile. Beneath the winery lies a traditional aging cellar, containing 2500 of the finest small oak barrels called barricas, where the Crianza and Reserva wines age to perfection. In a concession to modern technology, the aging cellar is temperature controlled so as not to risk temperature fluctuations that could adversely affect the wine. Nowhere have we found another winery that combines such painstaking traditional methods, alongside state of the art technology, to produce such warm and friendly wines.
La Rioja: A Special Wine Like most of the great viticultural regions of Europe, the face of modern Rioja was cast during the 19th century. With the hope of escaping phylloxera, the deadly vine louse found in Bordeaux, many successful Bordeaux growers began moving south across the Pyrenees to La Rioja in the 1870's. With them flowed the capital and the expertise to enrich and improve the already splendid grapes of La Rioja. They instituted extended barrel aging, which remains the signature of fine Rioja wines. Even today, modern Rioja spends more time in small oak barrels than almost any other modern wine. And, like Bordeaux, the wine of La Rioja is a blend of up to four premium grapes: Tempanillo, Mazuelo, Graciano, and Grenache. This unique blend of grapes, coupled with a long, lavish hiatus in small, American oak barrels called barriques, produces a warm, very dry,but richly fruity wine of great finesse and perfume that can be nearly immortal in great vintages.
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