A native of Cognac, Olivier Riviere studied oenology in Bordeaux with an emphasis in biodynamic farming practices. Olivier was always passionate about terroir expression, gaining valuable insights whilst working in Burgundy including at Domaine Leroy; however, Olivier’s dream was always to set up his own project. After years of hard work he was able to set up his winery and now with 25 hectares of land under vine (some owned, some rented) in Rioja Alta, Rioja Baja, Rioja Alavesa and in up and coming DO of Arlanza, Olivier is living out his dream.
The first wine is Ganko, which comes from 60–90 year old Garnacha and Mazuelo vines planted in sandy and red clay soils at a site 600 meters high. Olivier considers this wine to be his 1er Cru Rioja and he is not alone: Luis Gutierrez awarded it 94 points, stating in his tasting note that he “almost fell out of his chair” when smelling it! And why Ganko? Simply, Ganko is the nickname he was given by his Japanese importer. It means “stubborn” which is apt to say the least… but as this wine shows, stubbornness can yield great things.
The second wine is El Cadastro; a blend made from four parcels of older vines that were planted in the 1930s and 1950s. Most of this cuvée comes from the sub-zone of La Tizona, which Olivier feelsgives this wine its innate floral aromatics, to which he adds a portion of fruit from the sub-zones of La Mula, El Amesado and La Quemado – the high plateau considered by most to be the Grand cru of Covarrubias
TASTING NOTES COURTESY of Luis Guttierez of Robert Parker
2014 Ganko, Olivier Riviere
“I almost fell out of my chair when I smelled the 2014 Ganko. If the 2012 was voluptuous and heady, this 2014 is austere, cool, precise and chiseled. It has a slightly reductive nose with an intense stony/mineral sensation. There are floral notes, wild berries and some exotic spices. The blend has changed and it’s now a 50/50 blend of Garnacha and Mazuelo, which provides acidity and a vertical sensation like no other vintage of Ganko in the past. This is all from the village of Cárdenas in the Alto Najerilla in Rioja Alta, from high altitude, old vines on sandy soils in a zone where only a bunch of small plots remain because it’s hard to work. Rivière believes in this area to the point that he has purchased land to plant vineyards on some of the slopes. More than acidity, there is a sensation of freshness, which for me seems to come in good part from the soil. I’m really impressed. I’d love to see this wine in ten years’ time… Pretty amazing value. 4,000 bottles were filled in April 2016”
2014 Vina del Cadastro, Olivier 95Pts Luis Gutierrez “There is a lot more depth and complexity here; it’s not heavy at all and it’s very balanced, and it feels like a very good vintage for this wine. It was produced with extremely low yields, some 1,500 kilos of grapes from hectare, but it doesn’t have the astringency you often find in very low yields; the vines seem to have achieved very good balance. It combines floral notes with some red and black wild berries and just a spicy twist. The wine opens up nicely with time in the glass. The tannins are very fine with the subtle austerity from the stony, deep gravel soils, coming through as extremely elegant and definitively fresher than 2012, with the alcohol pretty integrated despite having some 14.5% by volume. This is a superb Arlanza, by far the best wine I know from the small appellation. This isn’t cheap, but for the quality, it still represents very good value. 6,000 bottles were filled in September 2016.”