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04 May 2013

Spain: a trio of Rioja

Rioja is one of those (fairly) endlessly fascinating wine "topics" yet sometimes a bit of a minefield too, as there are a lot of Rioja wines out there at all sorts of prices and it's not always clear what kind of style you're going get. Fruity but a bit thin or rich fruity and good, lightly oaky or very oaky, young and old (okay, that one should be pretty obvious), cheap and expensive (ditto). What these three different styles and price points of red Rioja below have in common is, well, they're all good as far as I'm concerned; and have all seen some barrel ageing from a few months to a few years, which clearly can shape the style, flavour and texture of the wine. They're also mostly made from the Tempranillo variety, considered Rioja's flagship grape although sometimes a splash of Garnacha (Grenache), Graciano (called Morrastel in southern France, not the same as Monastrell in Spain or Mourvedre, just to confuse matters...) or Mazuelo (= Cariñena or Carignan), for example, can actually improve the blend. Having said that, the second wine here from Cantos de Valpiedra was, I think, 100% Tempranillo and went down very well at a recent tasting I held.

Carlos Rodriguez
Saxa Loquuntur uno 2010 Carmelo Ortega (Tempranillo, Garnacha; 14% abv) - aged 4 to 6 months in American and French oak barrels. And it doesn't really show, just adding a little spice and light dark chocolate texture to its quite lush ripe berry fruit and dry yet fairly rounded tannins. Good value at £6.99 from Lidl (part of their 'Wine Cellar' range, so not all stores).
Cantos de Valpiedra 2008 Tempranillo (13.5%) - showing nice savoury meaty maturing side vs still quite rich and lush blackberry/cherry fruit, hints of spicy vanilla wood in the background vs fairly concentrated and stylish. £8.99 James Nicholson.
Carlos Rodriguez Reserva 2007 - pretty typical traditional style with developing volatile 'cheesy' notes and dried raspberry / cassis fruit, underpinned by smooth vanilla oak notes / texture and gentle 'sweet' fruit, hint of dry tannin to finish with savoury edges. A touch light perhaps and beginning to fade so it's ready to drink now; quite good though on the dear side - £12.99 from Naked Wines, or £9.49 if you're an 'Angel' (what's that all about by the way, paying them money to get the wine for the price it's worth?) Photo of Carlos copied from their site.

Mucho mas Rioja HERE (goes to Spain archive page with links) featuring, among others:
CVNE / Contino rare vintages of top Reservas and Gran Reservas ("If it's the 52, you were expecting me...").
Alvarez AlfaroRioja duet: LagunillaLa Rioja AltaGarnacha rosé...
Y mas!

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Header image: Château de Flandry, Limoux, Languedoc. Background: Vineyard near Terrats in Les Aspres, Roussillon.