As the Spanish wine reviewer for International Wine Report my ears perked up when I first heard the news that Conde Valdemar was considering investing in the Walla Walla Valley. I had long enjoyed these wines which were truly exceptional values out of La Rioja. A few past favorite bottles immediately creeped into my mind, including the gorgeous Conde Valdemar ‘Reserva’ bottlings from both 2005 and 2006 which overdelivered for the price. A few weeks back I had the great opportunity to visit Valdemar Estates, Conde Valdemar’s new winery in Walla Walla. Remarkably this is the first non-American owned winery in Washington. With sweeping views across the Walla Walla Valley and gorgeous, modern touches, this is a must visit for wine lovers near and far. I received a tour by co-proprietor and CEO Jesús Martínez Bujanda Mora, who represents the fifth generation of his family’s 130-year-old wine business. Jesus hired an eminent Washington winemaker to head his project, Marie-Eve Gilla.
Marie has some serious pedigree on her resume, first coming to the to the United States in 1991, and has previously worked at Argyle, Covey Run, Hogue, Gordon Brothers as well as Forgeron (2001-2019) before coming to Valdemar to serve as head winemaker earlier this year. She has a wealth of experience and I am very excited to see how her wines progress at Valdemar.
Marie’s 2017 Valdemar Estates ‘Component Trial’ Syrah (WWB, 90) is sourced from the Klipsun Vineyard and has really good richness and acidity a well as deep, Red Mountain terroir. The wines I reviewed from Conde Valdemar were exceptional across the board. I love the value driven 2011 Conde Valdemar ‘Reserva’ Rioja (WWB, 92) which overdelivers for the price and comes form a rather underrated vintage in Rioja. Even better was the 2010 Conde Valdemar ‘Gran Reserva’ Rioja (WWB, 93) which has wonderful richness and range, beautifully showcasing this exceptional vintage. Learn more about this special winery project at https://www.valdemarestates.com Here are the beautiful new wines by Conde Valdemar and Valdemar Estates
2016 Conde Valdemar ‘Finca Alto Cantabria’ Rioja Blanco- Sourced from a high elevation vineyard in the northern portion of Rioja, the nose ism quite nutty with roasted Marcona almond with citrus blossom and bright pear. The palate has really good tension and weight with bright lemon zest, Marcona almond and kumquat flavors that come together marvelously in the glass. Drink 2019-2029- 90
2011 Conde Valdemar ‘Reserva’ Rioja- The ‘Reserva’ by Conde Valdemar shows a deep core and opens with beautiful red fruits with leather and citrus rind accents that build in the nose. The palate shows great freshness and tension with bright red fruits that combine with blood orange and a brilliant salinity. This is a seriously good value that will cellar well for a decade or more. Drink 2019-2029- 92
2010 Conde Valdemar ‘Gran Reserva’ Rioja- The 2010 ‘Gran Reserva’ Rioja by Conde Valdemar is an outstanding new release from this sensational vintage in Rioja. This fantastic 2010 bottling opens with a beautiful bouquet of blood orange zest, pomegranate seed, leather and forest floor aromas that all combine marvelously in the glass. The palate shows a wonderfully rich mouthfeel. Black and red fruits combine with citrus rind and earthy tones. Beautiful now this will evolve gracefully over the next fifteen years. Drink 2019-2033- 93
2017 Valdemar Estates ‘Component Trial’ Syrah- Sourced entirely from the Klipsun Vineyard, this opens with aromas of black tea, anise and blackberry cobbler that combine in the glass. The palate shows a good combination of intensity and freshness with black fruits that mingle. With earthy toners and chocolate. Drink 2019-2029- 90
2015 Conde Valdemar ‘Las Seis Alhajas’ Rioja- Sourced from six clones of Graciano, this wine begins with rose water and beautiful red fruits that combine with citrus zest and earthy undertones on the bouquet. The palate has incredible intensity and freshness with wonderful poise and weight. Sensational now this will cellar well for twenty years. Drink 2019-2033- 92
2016 Conde Valdemar ‘Balcon de Pilatos’ Rioja- The ‘Balcon de Pilatos’ is a 100% Maturana wine which was originally seen as extinct. Valdemar is one of the few wineries who has planted this indigenous varietal. The wine shows off an inky core with brilliant dark fruit and herbal tons that build on the nose. The palate shows good richness and density with great acidity. Black tea, Asian spices and herbal tones combine on the palate. Brilliant now, enjoy this over the next fifteen years. Drink 2019-2033- 91
2016 Conde Valdemar ‘La Gargantilla’ Garnacha- This is sourced from a four hectare, high elevation, vineyard with 40 year old vines that are set in large stones. The wine begins with a wonderful stony character on the nose with pretty red fruits and bulls blood with citrus zest that fill the nose. Tons of citrus rind hit the palate with. White pepper, and red fruits that combine brilliantly on the palate. Drinking marvelously now this will cellar well for the next decade or more. Drink 2019-2033- 92