Since 1999, José Manuel has developed a reputation amongst his peers as one of the top winemakers in Spain. Now, his bodega produces less than 5,000 cases per year of small lot, hand-crafted wines from approximately 18 hectares of vineyards within the Tierra Estella sub-region of Navarra in northern Spain. Maria Saenz-Olazabal, his wife, collaborates with him on two stunning lines of wines: Alzania, and Saenz-Olazabal. Each vintage, the release of new wines shows a consistent and exceptional dedication to the varying estate fruit, in wines of elegance and concentration that can stand up with the top wines of the world. José Manuel's vineyards are never irrigated, never see herbicides or chemicals, and his plants produce between 3,000 to 5,000 kg/hectare on average. As a minimalist in the cellar as well, natural fermentations take place for all of his wines, carefully-thought-out oak treatments are used to complement the variety, and remarkably low amounts of sulfites are used during the process. Alzania wines are truly a magnificent approach to both international grapes and the local expression of Garnacha, and continue to express more and more of the territory year after year.
alzania 'camino del soto'
chardonnay, sauvignon blanc
Alzania’s Camino del Soto is a blend of Jose Manuel’s white grapes on the estate, coming from half Chardonnay and half Sauvignon Blanc. The expression is focused and terroir driven as it is a true marriage of the grapes from the beginning. A hand-harvest of these vines happen on the same day and the grapes are fermented together naturally in stainless steel. A cold fermentation makes for an incredibly aromatic blend, and it is coupled with a two-month rest on the fine lees to add depth and body to the finished wine. On the nose there are bright aromas of yellow plum, honey, and dried flowers, all of which lead up to a fleshy mouth feel of sweet fruit and melon. A long fruited finish that is accompanied by a freshness that is as bright as the wine is in the glass.
alzania 'finca la moneda'
merlot, garnacha, syrah
Alzania’s Finca la Moneda is a powerful and well-balanced wine that is outstanding now, but will keep for 10 years. Named for the coins and treasures found in the vineyards surrounding the estate, this wine’s varietals are fermented separately before the year long aging in an assortment of wood, ranging from 1st- 3rd time uses. This robust and full-bodied red shows luscious aromas of mature red and black fruit give way to layers of herbs, spices, eucalyptus, and mineral notes. With luscious but firm tannins, this wine holds its focus nicely throughout the long, rich finish.
Saenz-Olazabal’s Gardacho takes its name from a mythical dragon/lizard creature that the local children enjoy telling stories of. It is made from an average of 75-year-old vine Garnacha fruit that is fermented in concrete vats to retain the bright character of the grape. It spent 8 months in old giant French oak vats for a beautiful development before bottling. This wine’s freshness and exuberance is absolutely stunning! Bright red fruits shoot out of the glass, but with no lack of spicy tones to accompany it. Its lifted acidity on the palate exemplifies the berries and peppery notes and makes for an absolute delight to have in the mouth. So well-balanced and cleanly made, this red can be perfect with a slight chill for summer time drinking on the patio, or sit next to grilled meats and vegetables.
The Alzania Syrah is Jose Manuel’s most recent effort at the bodega, as an extremely approachable and more value driven ‘little brother’ to the 21 del 10 Syrah. After initial fermentation in stainless, the wine is transferred into both new French Allier oak and second use American oak, and spends several months in bottle before it is ready for release to the market. The resulting color is rich and dark, giving way to gorgeous aromas of fresh currant, blackberry, mature red and black fruit, and a touch of balsamic. The palate follows suit well with a lush and full-bodied approach, and a long incredible finish.
alzania 'el retorno'
Alzania’s El Retorno takes its name to bring forth the concept of ‘returning’ to using the old vineyards of the Navarra region where Jose Manuel has recovered one particular vineyard (and the only one left of its kind) that has olive trees and bush vines of Garnacha growing together in harmony. The grapes are fermented in small wooden tanks for 3 weeks until transferred to new French oak for 8 months, and then moved to large & used French oak for a final 3 months before bottling. Gorgeously balanced between fruit, earth, wood, spice, and acidity, the aromas and the flavors are beautifully expressive of the varietal. Fresh spring flowers, blue and red fruit character, wet rocks, and peppery spice come together for an elegant medium to full bodied red.
alzania '21 del 10'
The 21 del 10 shows Syrah’s ability to adapt to hot conditions makes it a perfect marriage for Navarra’s terroir and shows itself in this wine in waves of pepper and spice on the nose. Named for Jose Manuel’s daughter’s birthday, the 21 del 10 (21st of October) expresses both peppery spices and ripe, round fruit backed by a toasty oak flavor to produce a wine of careful balance, finesse, and complexity. This wine is drinkable now but is only beginning to show its true character and will develop greatly over the next five to seven years. Fermented in French 1,300L barrel