Michael Hepworth


TEXTURES OF ELEGANCE: “Respect the Grape!”



By Michael Cohan, Libations Analyst


HOLLYWOOD (Spiritsman) 5/8/17–La Rioja, Spain.  Just the mere mention of this internationality known region and bustling city sitting smack dab in northern Spain conjures up images of wondrous escapades of vast wineries garnering acreage of beautiful grape varietals.  Numbering around 500 the wineries provide country sides showcasing exquisite scenic views.  The mild microclimate coupled with superb soil quality composed of a chalky – clay texture produces an array outstanding grapes.

One of the top wineries here is owned by the Vivanco family, their foundation, and a vast array of unique experiences that they share their culture of wine with the world.  Situated in the foothills of the Sierra de Cantabria and on the banks of the River Ebro, the Vivanco Winery is located in a privileged enclave of La Rioja Alta in nearby Briones.

Santi and Rafael Vivanco both determined that their winemaking process had to be original.  To fully be respectful of the grape, they designed the winery with a clear focus around the fruit.  This is what they set out to accomplish.  Knowing that the berry would truly acquire the personality from its terrain and landscape, they incorporated the use of French oak vats that would further enhance the wine’s qualities.  These vats are a natural, food-grade material that can come into contact with the wine by promoting the exchange of oxygen.  The pores in the wood act in a way that prevents the wine from “closing” (undergoing a chemical reduction), thereby adding more color and creating a more elegant drinking experience.  Wood also provides sugars and toasted aromas for rounder tannins and a more noticeable fruit flavor.


Sampled this evening were two flavors of elegance from Bodegas, the bottler of Vivanco.  The first was a balanced white wine containing three types of grapes.   Their unique and first wine in Rioja and in the entire world is a Vintage 2016.  The main white grape, Viura, is the foundation and main variety 50%.  The wine also includes, for the first time, two minority grapes that are also grown in Rioja.  They are Tempranillo Blanco 35% which adds a fruity, intense aroma of bananas, citrus fruit, and tropical fruit with floral notes.  This variety comes from a natural genetic mutation found in a single cane of a red Tempranillo vine that was discovered in an old vineyard in Murillo de Rio Leza in La Rioja in 1988.   The oldest grape variety to have a written record in Rioja is Maturana Blanca 15% dating back to 1622.  Bodegas Vivanco is a pioneer in the proper use of the region’s magnificent grape varietals.

The combination of these elegant flavors produce a unique color to the wine, pale-yellow with green hues creating a clean and bright texture.  Upfront you’ll experience subtle and swirling aromas of citrus fruit, green apples and white peaches finishing fresh and light on the palate.

Now onto the second bottle of elegance.  Vivanco Crianza 2013 is a delicious red wine with lots of fresh and floral flavors.  It is a 100% Tempranillo Vintage.  These grapes are hand-picked carefully from estate-owned vineyards and later placed in a cold room for 36 hours before being processed on the sorting table.  This varietal will be aged in the oak barrels for a minimum of 16 months.

Upon first sip, this reviewer recognized the familiar aromas of an exceptional long finish!  The balance of flavors hits you immediately.  Cherry red but not too sweet, the aromas of the grapes will linger deliciously on your palate.  The intensity of the fresh, ripe, red fruit creates the nose, underscored with spicy and licorice notes, and the finish with its elegant toasty and smoky overtones.

I just happened to have a porterhouse around the kitchen that got seared on the stovetop.  Then I created a wonderful sauce to cook with.  A little steak seasoning, garlic, canned oysters in a rich soybean oil paste and voila! Poured some Vivanco Crianza to enjoy slowly, delicious!  If you want to experience the evening with Crianza Red you might just be coloring your night red hot!  Drink Vivanco to enjoy its delicacies of subtleness.  Of course it all pares well with some dark chocolate too!

The Vivanco foundation is the focus that the Winery has that encompasses their core strategy.  Their main objective is to research into the Wine Culture of the world and disseminate and share it.  That’s why they are constantly on the go, moving forward, involving everyone in the Winery’s projects and enjoying the Culture of Wine.  They also have a Museum of Wine Culture, Documentation Centre and Publishing House where they carry out their business endeavors.  They want to keep pursuing a different, unique, and unforgettable way to fall in love with wine!  The one question they want to know is, “Do you fancy it!?”  Visit their website at to start your experience!






Michael Hepworth

287 S.Robertson Blvd, Beverly Hills, CA 90211


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