Fincas de Landaluce is a small DOC Rioja Alavesa, family-run estate located close to Laguardia, on the road to La Hoya, an area known as 'Pinuelas', at the foot of the ash-coloured Cantabrian Mountains which dominate the landscape here. Two geographical features determine the quality of the wine produced in Rioja Alavesa. Firstly, its vineyards lie at high altitudes (up to 1200m) resulting in cooler temperatures that help the grapes to acquire and retain moderate acid levels and good colour. Secondly, the soil on the slopes and terraces where the vines grow is rich in chalk clay and limestone, resulting in wines that are characterful and rich in extract. Annual rainfall is around 500mm on average, which forces the roots to burrow deep into the soil in search of water. Recommended by Gerard Basset, top sommelier, Landaluce produce very balanced wines, agreeable to the palate.
Founded in 2000, Goyo Landaluce chose to steer away from mass volume Rioja and focus instead on low yield, very old vines. Fincas de Landaluce own 30 hectares of meticulously maintained vines, mainly Tempranilllo from clay, chalk soils from vineyards at San Gregorio, Carravaleseca, San Cristobal and La Gloria, which hug the shadows of the Cantabrian mountains to the north. The mountains help create a micro-climate for the Rioja Alavesa sub-zone, offering shelter from the Atlantic weather and wind, although the rainfall here is still almost double that of Rioja Baja. 15 hectares of this vine area are over 40 years old with some vines well over 80 years old, allowing for low yields. The remaining 15 hectares are made up of an average age of between 20 and 40 years old. The vines are grown in bush form with three irregular branches that come out of the soil and can reach as much as 1.80 metres in height. When one branch breaks, because of its age or its instability, it is replaced by a new shoot from the base. This allows the clusters to remain ventilated without touching one another and keeps the quality at its very best.
Landaluce only use their own grapes and do not buy from other vineyards. Year after year, the grapes are gathered by hand by the same group of 10 people from previously selected plots. They produce a generic back label for their wines, Elle de Landaluce and Capricho de Landaluce, without the traditional Crianza and Reserva ageing methods, which means that each type matches a certain level of individual quality rather than a typology established by DOCa Rioja.
The 2017 harvest in Bodegas Landaluce ran from 18 to 26th September, the earliest recorded in recent history. Landaluce gathered 111,500 kilos of grapes, the lowest in the last few years. Even though drought has influenced the decrease in quantity, 2017 emerges as an excellent year in quality favouring a very healthy grape determined by the lack of rains from May to September and the frost of April 29.