15 de mayo de 2013

Rioja's Historic Wineries - Faustino Martínez

The Martínez Family has been making wine in the small town of Oyón, some 4 km north of Logroño since 1860 and before. In their present form, the bodega and vineyard owe to much to Don Faustino Martínez Pérez de Albéniz, a distinguised Riojan viniculturalist, who began the bottling of the wines in 1931; and the firm, one of the few to remain in family hands. It possessed 350 hectares of vineyards in one of the best areas of the Rioja Alavesa, planted with 80 per cent Tempranillo, 10 per cent Viura, 5 per cent Mazuelo and 5 per cent Graciano, from which it produced 25 per cent of the wine. The new bodegas are equipped with up-to-date continuous presses, batteries of 45.000 litre temperature-controlled steel tanks and 12.000 oak barricas.

The bodega didn't believe in ageing its wine overlong in oak, and the reds were clean, well-balanced and fruity. The "Faustino I" gran reserva was exceptional in the 1964 and 1968 vintage; the 1970 was a soft and fruity wine, though now showing signs of age; and the 1973, with greater depth and body, is now drinking better. The 1975 and 1978 reservas were also very pleasant wines, the 1975 having better balance and fruit.

Apart from these wines made by the Bordeaux method and aged in barrica, Faustino sold a young "vino de cosechero" made in traditional fashion by fermenting whole grapes in a "lago". The 1982 were a dark plum colour, with yeasty nose and good blackberry flavour, reminiscent of Beaujolais Nouveau. A more matured 1981 seemed to have lost some of the fragrance and depth. These wines, though young, were incidentally not inexpensive, costing more than a regular 3º año red wine.

The bodega was one of the first in the field with a new-style "cold-fermented" with Rioja, fermented with cultured enzymes at 15º C. Best was the "Faustino V", made from 100 per cent viura and recalling a young white from the Loire or Alsace in its fragrance and light fruity flavour - though it tends to extreme dryness. This was produced with the first 45 to 55 per cent of the must coming from the press and was more fruity and delicate than the "Faustino VII", for which the grapes undergo firmer pressing.

Faustino also marketed a dry and fresh "Faustino V" rosé, made from 100 per cent Tempranillo and released within four months of elaboration.

Wines tasted:
Faustino V 1970 Reserva - 90/100 p. May 2013.
Gran Faustino 1955 Gran Reserva - 92/100 p. May 2013

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