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Olivier Riviere Gabaxo Rioja

$35.77

What happens when you take a well trained French winemaker and place him in Spain’s most prestigious wine region? Magic. Olivier Rivière was born and raised in the southwestern French region of Cognac. Having studied oenology in Montagne St-Emilion, he plied and honed his skills in Bordeaux and Burgundy. His intention was to start making wine in the region of Fitou, but this plan was shelved following a trip to Spain. In 2004 he was brought to Rioja Alavesa by famed winemaker Telmo Rodriguez, who asked Oliver to help convert his vineyards to biodynamic farming. Smitten by the region, he never left. Today he either rents or owns 25 hectares of vines in Rioja Alta, Rioja Alavesa, and Rioja Oriental. Planted between 350 to 1000 meters in elevation, his oldest vines are over 90 years in age and include Tempranillo, Graciano, Mazuelo, Garnacha, Viura, Malvasia and Garnacha Blanca. He hand harvests his fruit in 14-kilogram bunches to avoid blemishes, and manually sorts through the grapes at the winery within 30 minutes of them being picked. He whole-cluster ferments each variety separately using natural fermentation and ages the wines in a mixture of tanks, foudres and demi-muids. Taking a page from his previous experience, he grades his wines based on the Burgundian model (ie, regional wine, village wine, premier cru, and grand cru).

Gabaxo is Olivier’s only wine that blends fruit from a range of sites within Rioja. The Tempranillo is from Rioja Alavesa, planted on a rocky, clay-limestone soil at an elevation of 500 meters above sea level. The Garnacha is from a site near Cárdenas in Rioja Alta on red clay at 600 meters. Gabaxo is a not completely flattering term for a French border jumper – a nickname that Olivier embraces with pride. Along with Jequitiba, Olivier considers Gabaxo to be his Côte de Nuits version of Rioja.

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