2018 Rioja El Cristo de Samaniego, Bodegas Amaren, DOCa Rioja

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The El Cristo de Samaniego single vineyard is a relatively young one for Bodegas Amaren when compared to their other vineyards, yet having been planted in 1980 the vines are starting to reach a very decent maturity.  Planted at 685 metres above sea level in the harsh surrounds of the Sierra de Cantabria mountains, the vines need to work hard here just to battle the elements, bringing out a freshness and intensity in this individual Rioja.  The altitude also provides a greater diurnal temperature promoting phenolic ripeness,a nd extending the growing season giving a longer, more even ripening.  El Cristo de Samaniego is planted to Tempranillo (4724 vines), Garnacha (129 vines), Viura (333 vines) and Malvasia Riojana (88 vines), all of which bring their characters to the resultant wine. 

The grapes are hand harvested into small crates and undergo a rigourous double selection at the winery to esnure only the very best grapes go through to fermentation, which takes place in  concrete egg.  Malolactic fermentation takes place in a mixture of 500 and 225 litre French oak barrels prior to a 14 months ageing in barrel.  2 more years in bottle in the Amaren cellars completes the process before release.

This wine shows a wonderfully deep ruby colour in the glass. It is intense and complex on the nose with ripe red and black fruit aromas, notably cherry, blackberry and raspberry along with spicy nutmeg, clove and menthol notes.  The palate is smooth with high acidity and ripe tannins that are very well integrated with the oak. It is broad and balanced with a very long finish reminiscent of autumn. The presence of fruit stands out beyond all else.

“El Cristo de Samiego is a 1.86-hectare parcel at a once-marginal 685 metres that’s co-planted with Tempranillo, Garnacha, Malvasia Riojana and Viura. Rose petal scented, this has the tangy acidity of its cool site, sinewy tannins, impressive structure and texture and a peppery, savoury finish”.  93 Points, Tim Atkin, Feb 2022.

Bodegas Amaren have some of the highest vineyards in the Rioja Alavesa and are dedicated to the preservation of native varieties whilst making highly individual, modern interpretations from some seriously old vines.  The results are simply stunning and we are delighted to be able to offer a selection of these tiny production, highly characterful wines.  Bodegas Amaren practise a form of ‘A la Carte’ viticulture whereby each strain is treated individually according to it’s variety, situation and the conditions of the vintage.  This attention to detail certainly shows when you taste the wines.



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