A Bargain Debut for an Ancient Terroir.

Spearheaded by the likes of Telmo Rodriguez and Artuke, the recent trend towards old-vine, high-altitude, single-terroir wines is changing the course of history in Rioja, and especially in the most historic part of the region, Rioja Alavesa.

Ranging in price from $40 to $300 or more a bottle, these wines are a return to the small-scale farming and winemaking that characterized Rioja prior to the rise of the great historic bodegas between 1870 and 1900.

One of these historic bodegas, CUNE, has embraced this exciting trend by acquiring two small, breathtakingly beautiful, high-altitude vineyards in one of the greatest Rioja Alavesa terroirs of all, the village of Laguardia.

And from it, they are producing an intensely perfumed, vividly fruited and finely structured expression of its terroirs, Bakeder Vino de Laguardia. It’s first vintage was 2019, and we have it, shipped in our own temperature-controlled container from CUNE.

And, to introduce the wine, they have set the price at such a ridiculously low level that we can offer it for an incredible $27.95 a bottle. We expect later vintages to sell for much more.

It is really no surprise that CUNE should turn out such a beautifully site-expressive wine with this initial release. For the past century CUNE’s rich and full-bodied, yet dazzlingly nuanced and elegant Viña Real cuvées have been the very definition of wine from Rioja Alavesa’s sheltered limestone slopes. No one knows Rioja Alavesa’s terroirs better.

When CUNE decided to make a terroir-specific Rioja Alavesa they selected two of their finest Tempranillo parcels, San Ginés and Castejones, in the heart of the Alavesa subregion, the village of Laguardia.

Sheltered by the Sierra Cantabria Mountains, the south-facing, 550- to 600-meter slopes of San Ginés and Castejones feature both clay and limestone in their soils. The vineyard's position and soils produce quintessential Laguardia Tempranillo: richly red-fruited but bright, its bracing freshness underlined by its limestone minerality.

The fruit from the two sites are combined to produce Bakeder, which is made at CUNE’s Viña Real winery in Laguardia. From its gravity-only movement of wine to its natural bottle-aging caves, this Laguardia winery is designed to express CUNE’s Alavesa terroirs and fruit as purely as possible.

But unlike her other wines, Bodega Viña Real winemaker Eva de Bonita reached back to Alavesa’s ancient, small-scale traditions for Bakeder. The wine was vinified in small vats for 18 days, followed by the malolactic fermentation in concrete tanks. The barrels for aging are all neutral French oak.

Fifth-generation CUNE director, Victor Urrutia, has said that Bakeder is “what it must have been like to drink 1920s Viña Real before beginning the lengthy barrel aging.” This is not only because of the winemaking; it also is because Laguardia’s cool microclimate resembles the weather throughout Rioja 100 years ago.

In its first vintage, Bakeder proudly joins the movement of letting Rioja’s great vineyards speak for themselves. At just $27.95 this exciting new entry into the Viña Real range is nothing short of a gift.

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