In Rioja, it’s not uncommon for a few big producers to exude almost god-like status. They produce large amounts of wine and their market share is incredibly strong. The style of these large producers is what nearly everyone in Spain deems the standard for Rioja. However, Roberto Olivan, the force behind Tentenublo Wines, is one of the most exciting names among the new generation of winemakers who are more interested in making extraordinary wines from single sites rather than volume blends. He is challenging the preconceived notions of Rioja and tempranillo.
The fruit is sourced from vines which Roberto inherited from his mother and several other plots that he has gathered together around Viñaspre, his home village, near Lanciego in Rioja Alavesa. The high altitude, approximately 620 meters in elevation, helps define the brightly-defined style of his wines.
Working organically, using indigenous yeast fermentation, and limited sulphur, Roberto draws upon Rioja’s long established protocol of barrel aging (working mainly with French oak), to craft deeply personal wines of substance and character.
The name ‘Tentenublo’ comes from the of ringing bells traditionally used to ward off hailstorms in Rioja, which accounts for the animated bell chasing a hail cloud on the label. The Xérico label is a wonderfully nineteenth century looking masterpiece which has a picture of a different ancestor of Roberto’s in each vintage. The second line he calls Escondite del Ardacho, after a local lizard; consisting of three single vineyard, small production wines.