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Olivier Rivière Rayos Uva (biodynamic, natural) 2018

Wine Type: Large_icon Large_icon
Style of Wine:Earthy & Spicy
Country of Origin:Spain
Wine Region:Rioja
Grape Varietal:Tempranillo and Garnacha
Bottle Format:750mL
Case Size:12 bottles
$327.12 Per Case ($27.26/btl)

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Tasting Notes

Rayos Uva is Olivier’s version of a Bourgogne Rouge sourced from fruit grown in the sandy, gravelly and alluvial soils of Rioja Baja. The blend is dependent on the vintage but usually includes Tempranillo, Garnacha and Graciano – percentages change each year to create a brightly fruity version of Rioja unmarked by oak.

A young Frenchman established since 2004 in the Spanish Rioja Alta, Olivier Rivière managed to shape his expertise by working with Burgundy greats Frédéric Cossard and Lalou Bize-Leroy, as well as South-West talent Elian Daros. Working many vineyard parcels using organic methods, he chooses to work with vines of Tempranillo, Graciano and Grenache aged on average between 35 and 100 years.

With just shy of twenty hectares of vineyards that are rented, farmed or owned outright in Rioja Alta, Rioja Baja, Rioja Alavesa and Arlanza, and splitting his time between his own wines and those of Bodegas Lacus, it would be a gross understatement to say that Olivier Rivière is a busy man. Originally lured to Spain in 2004 by Telmo Rodriguez to convert his vineyards to biodynamics, Olivier came to appreciate the rich history of Rioja and the diversity of its soils and grape varieties. In 2006 he started his own project and, due to the high cost of land in Rioja, he traded his farming abilities for access to grapes from the best sites he could find. In 2009 he joined Luis Arnedo at Bodegas Lacus and found a more permanent home for his growing portfolio of wines.


Critical Praise

Olivier, as you might guess, is not Spanish but French. He was born and raised in Cognac, studied enology (with an emphasis in biodynamic farming practices) in Bordeaux and gained practical experience there and in Burgundy. The list of estates where he has worked is impressive by anyone's standards, from the most dedicated fans of natural wines (Elian da Ros) to ultra-traditionalists (Domaine Leroy.) When his plans to set up a domaine in Fitou fell through, Olivier decided to spend a few years consulting in Spain, and he's never left.

Coming from France, Olivier has an innate sense of terroir. Unlike most of his peers in Rioja, he bases his cuvées not on political boundaries or the length of barrel aging but instead on terroir. He believes in a Burgundy-inspired hierarchy of quality, with generic appellation and Village wines at the base and Premier and Grand Cru wines at the top. This is how to best understand what Olivier is doing in Rioja, rather than the moribund Crianza, Reserva, and Gran Reserva model.

In keeping with his education and advocation, all of Olivier's vineyard sources – whether owned or leased – are farmed biodynamically. The fruit is harvested by hand and each variety is fermented separately.


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