Rioja Reserva – 2018

Region: Spain - La Rioja


VALENCISO was born in 1998 when Luis Valentín and Carmen Enciso (Valen-Ciso, Val-en-THEECE-oh), Rioja natives with extensive experience in the region, joined their surnames to make a single wine in the winery of their dreams in La Rioja Alta.

Minority partners include former managers of Radoux, makers of the finest French oak barriques, and growers in the best areas of the Rioja Alta.

Valenciso’s objective is to produce a limited number of wines of the highest quality and authenticity. The flagship wine is released as Reserva. The very best Tempranillo grapes come from mature, low-yielding vineyards. Careful harvesting is timed to capture the intensity of the fruit, while avoiding over ripeness or excessive alcohol levels. Aromatic lift rather than physical weight – in the manner of French Burgundy and the greatest Riojas of the past – is the Valenciso ideal. Aging takes place in the finest cork-grade (flor) French oak barriques, one-third replaced each year. Time in oak depends upon vintage characteristics and is determined after exhaustive tasting. The Valenciso wines are balanced offering early accessibility, structure, fresh acidity and fruit intensity promising many years of bottle evolution.

Cement tanks are used for winemaking because they respect the vividness and contribute to the wine’s longevity. Aging in French oak barrels gives elegance and richness.

The Wine

Vineyard Profile

From Ollauri, Briones, Rodezno, Haro and Villalba estate vineyards in the north of Rioja Alta.

  • Altitude: 1633-2000 feet/507–610 meters
  • Soil: Clay-calcareous, chalky white
  • Vineyards benefit from cooling Altantic ocean influence
  • Sustainably farmed and following organic principles
Harvest Notes
  • Cold and rainy winter and spring – rainfall 40% avove average of last 10 years
  • Constant vineyard monitoring to reduce disease pressure was rewarded
  • Late summer heat led to wonderful, slow September and October ripening
  • Harvest began later with excellent development and under optimal conditions
  • Hand harvested October 12 – 29, 2018
  • Fermented in concrete vat with only indigenous yeasts
  • Malolactic fermentation in concrete in May 2019
  • Aged 18 months in French oak barrels
  • Aged 12 more months in concrete where it settled
  • No clarification – suitable for vegans
Winemaker's Notes

“The finesse of cold vintages:” this Reserva Tempranillo has the subtlety, finesse and liveliness that characterise cool vintages, so rare in this century. It reveals the elegance and freshness of northern Tempranillo, in perfect balance with the spicy notes of fine grained French oak.

Wine Summary

100% Tempranillo; alcohol: 14%; Ollauri, Briones, Rodezno, Haro and Villalba estate vineyards in the north of Rioja Alta between 1663–2000 feet; clay-calcareous soil; hand harvested October 12 – 29; fermented in concrete vats using only indigenous yeasts; spontaneous fermentation March 2019; aged 18 months in 100% French oak; wine transferred to concrete for 12 months to further age and settle before bottling; vegan friendly.

Technical Information
  • 100% Tempranillo
  • Alcohol: 14%
  • Vegan friendly


93 Points

The 2018 Reserva reveals developed aromas and a polished palate, tasty, almost salty flavors and a long, dry finish. It has notes of leather and meat and felt surprisingly ripe despite the cooler year, but the longer and slow growing season ripened the grapes thoroughly to 14.5% alcohol. It matured in French oak barrels, one-third of them new, for 18 months. It was bottled in December 2021. 2023 – 2028

Valenciso is one of the most reliable medium-size producers (150,000 bottles) from Rioja, combining modernity and tradition. In 2023, they celebrated their 25th anniversary—congratulations! That year, they also finished a project to reduce sulfites in their wines. Since 2017, their vineyards (31 hectares all around Haro and their winery in Ollauri) are organic (but the wines don’t carry certifications for now).

© Wine Advocate, February, 2024

94 Points

A more layered and refined Rioja here that shows fragrant berries, black cherries, plums, peppercorns, pencil shavings and graphite. Juicy and linear on the palate with a medium body and structured but creamy tannins. Turns more expansive in the finish with excellent length. Very classy and almost a bit Bordelais. Delicious already, but should hold well for the next five to seven years., January, 2024

General Info

PROPRIETORS Luis Valentín and Carmen Enciso
WINEMAKER Luis Valentín and Carmen Enciso
FARMING (SUSTAINABLE, ORGANIC, BIODYNAMIC) Organically farmed since 2006 – no herbicides, pesticides or insecticides