A beacon of excellence from La Rioja Alta

2012 Torre de Oña, Martelo Reserva, Rioja Alavesa, La Rioja Alta SA, Spain

2012 Torre de Oña, Martelo Reserva, Rioja Alavesa, La Rioja Alta SA, Spain (£35, Armit.co.uk).

The famous La Rioja Alta company has released a brand new product under its Torre de Oña brand and it is a thoroughly gorgeous wine. A single vineyard Reserva, made from 60-year-old vines, the 2012 vintage is a 95% tempranillo, 5% field blend of mazuelo, garnacha and viura, and it spends two years in 80% American and 20% French oak.

So far so good. The recipe makes sense and it also explains a lot about the lush, broad, sweeping black-fruit flavours and ultra-succulent back palate. But I think there is more here. While tasting the traditional La Rioja Alta alongside this wine, I noticed a more ancient and venerable edge to the LRA range, with ancient, oaky notes, brick-red colours and leathery, strawberry flavours, while the Torre de Oña wines looked modern, fit, brightly fruited and much more alive in terms of their vivid, blood red colours.

Ensuring that the two brands have two distinct characters is a good idea. But, and this might be a little heretical, the monumental La Rioja Alta company might be going the wrong way – retreating into the past, while its new sibling charges over the new horizon. Martelo is a beacon of excellence – one sip will show you why.

• Matthew Jukes is a winner of the International Wine & Spirit Competition’s Communicator of the Year (MatthewJukes.com).

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