Bodegas Juan Carlos Sancha Ad Libitum Maturana Tinta 2020

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In the heart of Spain's Rioja wine region, steeped in centuries of tradition, a maverick winemaker is quietly revolutionizing the art and science of winemaking. Juan Carlos Sancha, a professor of Oenology at the University of La Rioja, is challenging the established norms of Rioja's giant winemaking machine, and he's slowly transforming how wine is made in the entire region. Through his tireless efforts, he is safeguarding local indigenous grape varieties, championing young winemakers, and leading the charge toward sustainable and organic viticulture.

Juan Carlos utilizes his expertise and influence at the University of La Rioja to educate and train upcoming generations of winemakers. His teachings go beyond textbooks and fermentation equations, promoting appreciation and respect for the local terroir and indigenous varietals -- values often lost in the commercial race for widespread, mass-market grapes. This academic pursuit, intertwined with his decades of work in the field, is creating a paradigm shift in winemaking in Rioja, emphasizing a harmonious balance of quality, authenticity, and ecology.

Juan Carlos Sancha's vision for Rioja goes way beyond merely preserving the region's vinicultural history. He's determined to leave a healthier, more sustainable Rioja for future generations of vignerons. Organic viticulture ensures healthier soils, promoting a vibrant ecosystem that benefits not only the vineyards but also the regional environment.

Juan Carlos Sancha's dedication to saving local indigenous grape varieties from extinction is nothing short of extraordinary. Two grapes that have captured his attention are Maturana and Tempranillo Blanco. Recognizing their historical significance and unique characteristics, Sancha has made it his mission to revive these forgotten gems.

Maturana, an ancient grape variety native to Rioja, nearly vanished from vineyards. This grape makes growing Pinot Noir seem like a walk in the park thanks to its propensity for late budding and susceptibility to diseases -- attributes that don't exactly endear it to vignerons. Juan Carlos was not intimidated or discouraged by the difficulty and he saw Maturana's potential to produce wines with a distinctive complexity and character.

In the glass, we can enjoy the fruits of Juan Carlos' research and labors. His Maturana presents an enticing blend of deep, dark forest fruits, violets, and spices with an undercurrent of earthy minerality. There's a gorgeous freshness and lift on the palate, nicely balancing the density of fruit.

Pair this rare gem with grilled meats, savory stews, and of course, lamb chops!

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