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WINE OF THE WEEK: Vinos en Voz Baja Costumbres 2020, Rioja Oriental, Spain

£16, The Wine Society

This tiny production Rioja, made predominantly from old-vine Garnacha, is both new-wave and traditional: new in that Carlos Manzo and his wife Isabel Ruiz are first-generation producers making a wine that's bright and light on its feet with rock-pool mineral freshness, juicy, herby, red-cherry fruit, no new-oak influence and fine texture; traditional in that they hand-pick, tread by foot, don't filter and focus on Garnacha, the traditional grape variety of the Oriental sub-region.

Their 10 diminutive vineyards, just over 5ha in all, were inherited from their parents – growers not wine producers – and are in Aldeanueva de Ebro, Alfaro and other villages in the south of Rioja Oriental, the largest and easternmost of Rioja's three sub-regions.

This is the region that until a few years ago was called Rioja Baja. The name referred to its lower altitudes compared to Rioja Alta and Alavesa, but growers didn't like it because it might seem to imply inferior.

In fact, that's how Baja/Oriental was always viewed. It's not only lower, but markedly hotter and drier and so produced bigger, more alcoholic wines that were often used to beef up more refined Alta and Alavesa Riojas. But there's now a new generation – people like Carlos and Isa – seeking out old, high-quality, often higher elevation vineyards to make low-intervention wines that sing of terroir and Garnacha's finer side.

If you haven't bought your Christmas Day red wine, why not this? It's also a candidate for the Boxing Day cold-collation and goes well with lamb (slow-roast or seared pink), herby pork, pulses with or without chorizo, and grilled and roast vegetables. Try baked squash with a lightly spiced stuffing. 14.7%

Vinos en Voz Baja Costumbres 2020, Rioja Oriental, Spain


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