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Bodega Lanzaga Rioja La Tabuerniga 2018


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Tabuerniga is another extraordinary place, where viticulture has been practiced for more than 1300 years. It is a stunning landscape, a concave slope crossed by staves of vineyards. some of them abandoned, some being cultivated, and many others in the process of recovery. Telmo and Pablo purchased the Tabuérniga vineyard in 2010, and its first vintage was made in the Oullari cellar with the 2014 vintage. However, they have been watching and hoping to purchase this special site since working nearby at Remelluri in the late 1980s. South-east facing, looking over a blind towards las Beatas, Tabuérniga is a 4.1 hectare spot with several ‘lugares’ (lieux-dits) elo and Garnacha, and lots of Garnacha Blanca. There are nine or more cultivars in total (the genetics have not been entirely identified – Telmo and Pablo like the mystery!), with traces of Viura, Moscatel, Maturana, Blanca Roja and Gran Negro too. The soils are shallow, stony, silty chalk-clay of very low fertility. Altitude is 540-630 m, with 2.7 hectares of the little valley planted. The wines are naturally fermented in 3-4,000 liter open wooden casks, and aged 14 months in 1500 liter foudres. 2,000 bottles were made in 2014, the first release of Tabuerniga.
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Telmo Rodriguez’s fame, infamy to some, began to grow in the 1990’s when he became the face of his family’s winery in Rioja Alavesa, Remelluri, Already an outlier with its all estate bottlings, Telmo introduced new French barrels (Rioja producers almost exclusively use American Oak barrels) and eschewed the regions traditional nomenclature; Crianza, Reserva and Gran Reserva. The wines were hit and a favorite of critics, excited by a new fresh take on this storied region. It was during this time that Telmo started to really take notice of the fact that the most dramatic vineyards in the area were abandoned. These sites were on precipitously steep slopes, with old vines of native varieties. He began to realize the sheer potential of these forgotten sites and the path toward his future endeavors began to emerge.

In 1994, Telmo, along with his partner and friend, Pablo Eguzkiza, began Compania de Vinos Telmo Rodriguez, a project intended to identify and restore ancient, indigenous varieties in top vineyards throughout Spain. The philosophy was simple: to recover some of the country’s formerly great, abandoned vineyards and focus exclusively on native varieties. They now produce wine in nine regions across Spain: Rioja, Ribera del Duero, Toro, Rueda, Cigales, Valdeorras, Cebreros, Alicante and Málaga. Today we are very proud to offer perhaps Telmo’s most ambitious project, Bodega Lanzaga.

Telmo and Pablo bought a cool, dark 17th century bodega in Oullari, a tiny village five miles south of Haro. It’s a tiny twin-chamber affair which holds maybe 30 barrels. Backed into a little mountain, it is fresh and clean-smelling with the requisite rioja mold on the walls and stays at a constant 12 degrees. The year was 1999 and this is the spot they chose to attempt to revive what had almost completely been lost to history. The wines that existed pre-phylloxera, pre-chemicals, pre-machines. With the help of the native strains of Rioja yeast and a little gravity, they make everything by hand using three large old foudres. The wines take 12 months to go through malolactic fermentation. Even though the wines seem “new” the term “modern” does not fit what they do. If the Bodegas in Haro are the “traditional” producers, then Bodegas Lanzaga is a pre-traditionalist.

Bodega Lanzaga now consists of 19 hectares of organically farmed vineyards split between the villages of Lanciego and Labastida. Telmo's goal is to recreate the vineyards of 150 years ago, where 50 varieties would be planted together. All new plantings are planted exclusively to bush trained vines and are planted to a variety of strains of Tempranillo and Garnacha as well as ancient cultivars, such as Viura, Moscatel, Maturana, Blanca Roja and Gran Negro. These are true field blends, planted to both white and red varieties. All of the wines are fermented with local yeast strains that exist in the cellar.

Professional Reviews

Robert Parker

RP 98
"The 2018 Tabuerniga is from one of the most beautiful vineyards in Rioja, a terraced place that is located at 540 to 630 meters in altitude and is farmed organically. It fermented in open-top oak vats with indigenous yeasts and matured in 1,500-liter oak foudres for 14 to 16 months following the most strict tradition. The wine is superb, subtle, elegant and refined, still a little young and closed but with a sense of harmony, depth and seriousness that puts it among the finest vintages for this wine. The palate is lively and vibrant, with purity and harmony; it's delineated, symmetric and seamless, with a silky palate. This is simply superb and develops further complexity with time in the glass, flowers a touch of meat and blood. This is my go-to wine from the single-vineyard bottlings."


  • Grape Variety

    Red Blend , Tempranillo

  • Vintage


  • Size


  • Farming Practice


  • Style

    Earthy , Minerally , Spicy

  • Sweetness


  • Body

    Medium Bodied

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