Castillo de Cuzcurrita

Half an hour out west of Haro, the hamlet of Cuzcurrita de Rio Tiron approaches the limit of La Rioja. Not really a sub-region so much as a place, but here there is a clear distinction, a local typicity of acid freshness unusual in Tempranillo. Cuzcurrita’s first vintage was 2000, working 7 hectares of old vines on a hill above the 14th century castle or Castillo of Cuzcurrita del Rio Tiron. The Tiron is a remote tributary of Rio Ebro, which defines la Rioja. Here in the limits of north-western Rioja above 550m altitude, freshness is guaranteed – ripeness is marginal. Two wines are made: Senorio, which is bright, briary, fresh lively, springy even, with spicy acidity. Cerrado is a selection featuring heavier, earthier tannins spends 15 rather than 12 months in wood, and is selected from a pure sand site. The wines are 100% Tempranillo, all bush vines ‘en vaso’; worked only with gravity, aged in French oak. Only reservas are made. With the outstanding acidity found here, the wines can be largely left alone in the winery, they are handled – including racking – as little as possible. The main vineyard was planted in 1970. Initially very vigorous, organics and yield reduction now see production reduced to a startlingly low ½ kilo/vine from the sandy, stony soil. Harvest is very late, only commencing in mid-October.