May 2024 Tinto Wine Club

Viña Ijalba Graciano 2021

Regular Price: $25.99
Club Price: $22.09


Mother’s Day is this month, and this is a beautiful gift from Rioja. In 1994, Viña Ijalba crafted their inaugural wine solely from Graciano grapes, a not particularly high-yielding variety, but one marked by high acidity and intense aromatics, making it a very bright and approachable food wine with a lovely rustic charm. But I also like it for another reason. Amidst the flurry of tasting activity while curating the wine club selections, my gaze fell upon the label of Viña Ijalba Graciano. Its delicate floral label triggered a rush of memories conjuring up a funny little anecdote from my childhood: a memory of a simpler time, of trust, and of creativity.

I was around fourteen (circa 1978). My Mom, Adeline, encouraged me to redecorate my bedroom however I pleased, entrusting me with the task of DIY-ing with the very expensive materials I had chosen. As I admired the floral pattern on the Ijalba label, it totally reminded me of the imported French wallpaper I had ordered and waited weeks for to include in my big bedroom make-over. The other moms on the street were skeptical, doubting my ambitious project. “Really Adeline, you’re going to let her do it herself?” Despite concerns, Mom trusted my vision and encouraged me to go for it, even though it was way more than she, as a single mom, would EVER spend on decor.

Days turned into weeks. I meticulously adorned the walls of the room, laboring over every detail. And skepticism turned to astonishment when I unveiled the transformation. I had turned my bedroom into a haven of elegance and style, a space that – I thought – could appear in the pages of Architectural Digest (well maybe Better Homes and Gardens).

I can't help but reflect on the grace of my mother's trust and support. She not only nurtured my creativity but also witnessed the birth of my cool vision. I was reminded that trust and grace are essential ingredients in nurturing and creating lovely things. Yup! I got all that outta the label. Happy Mother’s Day.


Viña Ijalba
Maturana Tinta 2020

Regular Price: $35.99
Club Price: $30.59

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When selecting wines for the Tinto Wine Club, we usually focus on winemakers pushing the boundaries of tradition, something the winemakers at Viña Ijalba have been doing since the 1970’s, when the Ruiz Ijalba family planted their first vines in Rioja. With this wine they introduced us to a “new” grape, really a very old grape - Maturana Tinta, a variety exclusively planted in Rioja which nearly fell into extinction. It’s related to a French grape called Castets, which is now gone. 

Its French cousin is lost, but this is a comeback story. In 1988, Viña Ijalba, in collaboration with a government regulatory council and the University of Rioja, initiated a project aimed at enhancing the quality, diversity, and protection of Rioja wine. By 1993, they had planted an experimental vineyard with 100 different varieties. Out of this vast field, Maturana Tinta showed promise. In 1997, Viña Ijalba planted its first Maturana Tinta vineyard, and introduced Rioja’s first 100% Maturana Tinta wine in 2003, the first all-Maturana Tinta in the world.

The grape has proven to be a hardy varietal, following a growth cycle similar to Tempranillo. The wines have a rich, deep garnet color due to the high concentration of a natural phenolic compound called anthocyanins, and the grape shares some similar flavor profiles with varietals like Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Typically high in acidity, it yields wines with medium to high alcohol levels with a lot of character and complexity. As soon as it poured into the glass with its deep garnet color, I knew I was in for a rich experience. 

The aroma is a flavor explosion—hints of cocoa, vanilla, and spice mix with the scent of black fruits like black cherry, black currant, and black plum. Thanks to some seriously skillful winemaking it's got a balanced, round, elegant, feel and despite appearing very concentrated, is surprisingly medium-bodied with a nice kick of acidity,  just the right amount of tannin and a medium-long finish. Pair this with a hefty charcuterie board of cured meats, spicy sausages, and a country pâté. Or even better,  a smoked Ribeye with garlic mashed potatoes.

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