Andrew Guard

2018 Rioja Tinto 'Gabaxo', Olivier Rivière

The 2018 Gabatxo was singing when I tasted it. Despite 2018 being a more austere year, this was floral and elegant, insinuating and nuanced, very expressive. This is different from the previous years when the wine was a 50/50 blend of Garnacha and Tempranillo. Now, there's less Tempranillo and more Garnacha, and Graciano comes into the picture. So, it's a blend of 40% Garnacha, 30% Graciano and 30% Tempranillo from different locations: Cárdenas and Rioja Baja for the Garnacha and Laguardia for the Tempranillo and Graciano. Alcohol is 13.5%, and there's very good freshness. It has fine tannins, and there's a very spicy side to it (black peppercorns from the Graciano?). It's nicely textured, long, precise, balanced and mineral. It's a serious wine that drinks well and has everything to develop nicely in bottle. Superb! All wines now have a slightly longer élevage and are bottled a little later.
(93 pts) Luis Gutiérrez, Issue 251 End of October 2020, The Wine Advocate

Today there would not be a Sommelier or enthusiastic amateur taster in Spain that has not heard about Olivier Rivière and his small, artisan production of Rioja and Arlanza wines. He is one of the new Grandees of Spain.

Having been on the lookout for years, Olivier was eventually able to purchase some Tempranillo and Albillo vines at 1000 meters of altitude. These are in the village of Cavarrubias, in the Burgos province, in the AOC Arlanza. The vines are very old, and Olivier has produced a few very rare but stunning wines. “Viñas del Cadastro” and “El Quemado” are both produced from the same site, “El Quemado” coming from a little triangle shaped parcel at the top of the vineyard. Both these wines were matured in seasoned oak barrels for 18 months prior to bottling and are explosive and exotic but have the Riviere signature of elegance, freshness and definition. His old vines Albillo makes the very rare white “Basquevenas” that is silken, perfumed and rich. It is fermented and matured in seasoned barrels and reminds me in many ways of some of the great whites of the Northern Rhône.