On the Trail

BODEDA CASA JUAN SEÑOR DE LESMOS

Located within the beautiful, walled Rioja Alavesa village of Laguardia, Bodegas Casa Juan Señor de Lesmos offers up a terrific range of Riojas that are honest, detailed and soulful expressions of both the region and their terroir. Angel Escudero, along with his siblings (CArmen, SAntiago, JUlio and ANgel = Casa Juan) own their simple yet functional bodega, along with slightly under 30 hectares of vineyards they help to farm primarily themselves (no herbicides, no pesticides, just copper sulphate and sulphurutilized as needed). The vineyards are on the classic yellowish, calcareous clay of the Rioja Alavesa region, and generally are a good bit removed from even the country roads. They are surrounded by some wild vegetation, usually naturally protected, and a bit “salvaje, en mi estilo” as Angel likes to say. These wines typically contain mostly Tempranillo, with up to 15% Mazuelo. While the vineyards are mature, some up to 100 years old, and farmed with great care, where Angel really lights up is in the cellar. Primary fermentation occurs always with indigenous yeasts in concrete tanks, where the wines are eventually racked to barrels, which are used up to 7 years and consist primarily of American oak. Angel swears by one local cooper in particular, someone whose barrels I have never seen anywhere else. Some of these are marked, once again, with some rarely seen traits: Pennsylvania oak, LT (light toast instead of the ubiquitous MT). Prior to bottling, Angel is careful to let wine from various barrels come together in tank after blending, and before he sells the wine he always prefers to age it in bottle until he thinks it is starting to drink to his liking. These wines are articulate  and worthy of contemplation, but also gregarious and lots of fun, like the man who makes them.