Rioja, rioja Spain

Owned and run by Lalo Antón and his family, Izadi, which means ‘nature’ in the Basque language, is a project rooted in a passion for gastronomy and wine. The estate was founded in 1987 by Gonzalo Antón, Lalo’s father, who, at the age of 37 and with a background in restaurants, decided to create his own winery with the aim of producing modern, perfumed, food-friendly wines that are true to their roots and a natural expression of the area. As well as the winery, the family also run the Michelin-starred restaurant, Zaldiaran, in nearby Vitoria.

The winery sits in the small village of Villabuena in Rioja Alavesa, the highest part of the region, at 400-600 metres above sea level. Izadi own 178 hectares of vineyards but also source from an additional 108 hectares. Importantly, whether leased or owned, the old vines from which all of the fruit for the wines comes have an average age of 45 years. They are located in the triangle formed by the three villages of Villabuena, Samaniego and Abalos. Due to the high altitude, there is a dramatic difference (up to 20°C) in temperature between night and day, which encourages the development of aromatics in the grapes. The distinctive white calcareous soils are mainly planted with old Tempranillo vines, traditionally bush-trained for better exposure to the sun and ranging from 30-100 years of age. Once picked, the grapes arrive at the bodega, which is on a steep slope with 50 metres of incline. This allows for a gravity-flow winery, ensuring less pumping, which can stress the wines.

Ruth Rodriguez is at the head of the winemaking team, a young and dynamic winemaker with experience in Sicily, New Zealand and Chile. The Rioja Blanco, made from a blend of Viura, Garnacha Blanca, Malvasia, Maturana Blanca, Tempranillo Blanco and Turruntés, is a modern style of white Rioja, combining purity of fruit with a subtle use of new French oak to add further complexity. Izadi’s flagship wine, the Rioja Reserva, uses only hand-picked grapes from 30 to 40-year-old vines. The wine is aged for 16 months in American and French oak barrels and for two further years in bottle to qualify for Reserva status. Lively red and black fruit flavours combine with toast and spice notes, giving a remarkably complex wine for its modest price point.


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