Bodegas Alvia (Ventosa/Rioja Alta)

We recently stopped in Ventosa in Rioja Alta at Bodegas Alvia. The Pilgrims’ Trail passes in front of the Bodega. The 593km marker, to be precise. Alfredo Bernaldez’s family has been making wine for 100 years and started bottling themselves in 2006. Alfredo showed us his vineyards, many of them are seriously old, seriously gnarly, planted in 1905. With so many old vines, harvesting is always by hand.
Their oak barrel regime is 30% new each year. Mainly French with some American (Appalachian), Hungarian and Russian. Alfredo says that 30 years ago alcohol levels were routinely 12%. Now they have risen to 14% which he finds works better with the finer, smaller grain of French and Hungarian oak.
It was the rich, textured Crianza (85% Tempranillo/15% Mazuelo & Garnacha) that brought us here. We stayed for the Reserva and Gran Reserva.