We spent the entire day at the Vivanco winery in Briones in the Rioja Alta area. Actually we could have spent 2 full days. If you ever get to Rioja, put Vivanco on your ‘to visit’ list; it has our highest recommendation.

The winery started with the father’s vision 40 years ago. Pedro Vivanco worked as a consultant to all of the top wineries in Rioja. He saved his money, started buying parcels in Briones and the winery was launched in 2004.

After acquiring 300 hectares parcel by parcel, the family started construction of a state-of-the-art winery, a unique museum dedicated to wine history and culture and a restaurant. Today the winery produces 5 reds and 5 whites with a production of a million bottles.

One son Rafael is in charge of winemaking and the other son, Santiago, runs the museum. They only use French oak and tempranillo for the crianza and 10% graciano in the Reserva. They age their wines more than is required and sell no wine before its time.

Our tasting started with 4 wines: their viura, a white wine with character that’s balanced with the addition of a little malvasia and tempranillo blanco.I would compare it to a Gavi or a Sancerre; Rosado, a blend of tempranillo and garnacha, a dry rosé marked by a distinct fruitiness; the Crianza 2011, 100%

Professional tasting Vivanco

Professional tasting Vivanco

tempranillo , aged 1 year in barrel and 6 months in bottle. This wine captures the essence of Rioja crianza with herbal tones of balsamic and laurel; the Reserva 2008 which had 10% graciano added which gives the wine added layers of complexity.

Then we tasted 4 wines from their Colleccion series: 4 Varieties 2011, a blend of tempranillo, graciano, garnacha and Mazuelo. The wine was a fruit bomb; Parcelas de Garnacha 2011,a delightful fruity expression of one of my favorite grapes; Parcelas de Maturana Tinta 2012, a local grape with minute production; and Parcelas de Graciano 2009, the grape used to add black fruit dimensions in the Reserva blend. This series is an attempt by the winery to produce single vineyard wines to express the tipicity of terroir. The longterm goal, shared with Remelluri and Sierra Cantabria, is to allow wineries to designate communes and single estates on the labels, getting away from the generic designations of crianza, reserve and gran reserva and to adapt the DOC to differences in terroir, the way it’s done in France and Italy.

Our first-rate visit was topped off with a wonderful lunch overlooking the magical setting of the Ebro Valley.

Here are all of the articles covering our Rioja wine tour in order:

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