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16 February 2023

Rioja: 5 to 10 year-old red wines.

As promised, the Rioja quest on WineWriting.com has turned increasingly geeky with this selection of 16 smoothing reds aged for 'five to ten years' (in cask and bottle).
The focus is the 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017 vintages: some of these wines are traditionally categorised as Reserva or Gran Reserva, while other winemakers featured here ignore these rules simply because equating a mandatory amount of barrel-ageing with quality is indeed a daft idea.
These notes and comments represent the third act of my on-going Rioja drama based on what stood out at a big tasting in Dublin recently. Part 1 (whites wines) can be viewed HERE and part 2 (reds 'under 5 years') HERE, where you'll also find a little blurb about the producers and varieties included below.

Bodegas Muriel
Muriel Reserva 2017 (13.5% abv - pic. above): 35 year-old Tempranillo vines, 2 years in American and French oak. Tastes quite firm-textured and extracted at first with lightly smoky toasty notes on top of lots of rich sweet & savoury fruit, maturing black pudding flavours mingle with aromatic berry fruit on a lingering finish. Tasty, fair class. Irish importer Classic Drinks. €11 Spain. £13-£15 UK. $21.50-$23 US and Canada (Quebec). €12 Netherlands. 160 Kr Denmark.
Notes on their delicious Reserva Blanco 2014 are HERE.

Bodegas Ollauri
Conde de los Andes 2016 (14.5% abv): 50 year-old Tempranillo, 14 months in French oak. Richer more extracted and fruitier style than some of the others, hints of smoky oak in the background with quite luscious fruit; still tastes young, very nice Rioja with more to come. Classic Drinks, Ireland. €25-€29 Spain. £25-£30 UK. HK$1028 6-pack (on offer, usually about HK$250 a bottle).

Bodegas Cornelio Dinastía
Cornelio Emperador Reserva 2017 (14.5% abv): selected 50-70 year-old Tempranillo grown at over 500m altitude in Rioja Alta, 24 months in new American oak. Fairly toasty nose to start with dark chocolate tones, extracted concentrated and structured palate with plenty of delicious fruit and nice smoky finish; needs more time in bottle, promising (should be for the price). €40-€45 The Corkscrew and A Wine Idea (Dublin). €25-€32 Spain and Germany.

Cuna de Reyes
Finca Las Cabras Crianza 2016 (14% abv): Tempranillo, 12 months in French and American oak. Smooth and smoky, mature Rioja with a little lingering structured bite; drinking nicely now. €18.95 Ireland (Boutique Wines). €9 Spain. €13 Netherlands. $28 US.
Cuna de Reyes Edición limitada 2015 (14% abv): Tempranillo, 10 months in new French oak. Enticing savoury nose, grippy and textured mouthfeel where the oak is still a little obvious, but this wine has a touch of class; should integrate better over the next couple of years. €35 Ireland (Boutique). €20 Spain. CHF35 Switzerland. €19 Belgium.

Viña Real & Cvne
Cvne Imperial Gran Reserva 2016 (14.5%): 85% Tempranillo with Graciano and Mazuelo selected from Remedio and Encinas vineyards at 550 to 650m altitude and Barbarroja and Antoñanzas; fermented in wooden vats then at least 2 years ageing in new oak and 36+ months in bottle. Still youthful looking and not that oaky on the nose, concentrated powerful and firmly textured but has lovely depth of fruit; just starting out, should be very good. €65 Bibendum Ireland. UK £40 in bond (Justerini & Brooks) or £50-£62 retail. €58 Spain.
Contino Gran Reserva 2016 (14% abv): majority Tempranillo with Graciano, Mazuelo and Garnacha from this single estate in Rioja Alavesa; 36 months in French and American oak. Mellowing nicely while concentrated too, developing savoury and cheesy tones although has quite structured palate underlined by solid fruit. Also young and promising. €65 Spain. £50-£60 UK. $60-$70 US. NZ$99.00.

Bodegas Domeco de Jarauta
Viña Marro Reserva 2017 (14% abv): mostly Tempranillo with Graciano, at least 2 years barrel and bottle ageing. More concentrated, structured and spicier than their (also very good) younger reds (reviewed here), while beginning to mature nicely offering sumptuous sweet / savoury fruit on top of still quite firm tannins; tasty now but will improve over the next few years. €20 Ireland. £17.50 UK. €12.50 Spain. €12 Germany. €13 Belgium (2016).
Domeco de Jarauta Vino de Autor 2015 (14% abv): old vine Tempranillo aged for 18-24 months in cask, 'the best barrel selection'. Deep colour with lightly smoky nose, very concentrated rich and smooth, lots of savoury yet dark fruit, still solid and youthful-tasting palate but lovely textured tannins; will age for some years to come, very good wine. €24 Spain. £35 UK (2014 Virgin wines). €26 Belgium.

Bodegas Manzanos
Based in the Rioja Oriental zone, this bodega boasts two wineries and some old steep vineyards: La Ladera is home to at least 65 year-old Viura vines, Los Caballos to bush vine Tempranillo of similar age and El Barranco is allegedly 'said to have the oldest Graciano vines in Spain, if not the world.' Importer: Alliance Wines.
Voché Selección Graciano 2014 (14% abv): 20 months in French and Romanian oak, some of it open-top barrel-fermented. Aromatic oak on the nose, vibrant colour and fruit for its age turning grippier on the palate but it's well done with plenty of lush fruit; very tasty Rioja. €30-€35 Ireland. €25-€30 Spain. £25-£26 (or £135 case of 6) UK. $35 US.
Palacio de 1890 Viñedo Singular 2017 (15% abv): 100% Garnacha, 10 months ageing in French oak. Ripe fruity kirsch aromas and enticing sweet maturing flavours, punchy yet very concentrated mouthfeel and lingering finish; lovely wine although expensive. €60 (case of 6 €360) to €70 Ireland. €76 Spain (in gift box). £50 UK (£299 case of 6). €50 Germany.

Bodegas Marqués del Atrio (Rioja Oriental)
Marqués del Atrio Reserva 2017 (14% abv): 85% Tempranillo and 15% Graciano grown at 300-600m altitude, matured 2 years in French and American oak. Has a fair amount of substance and fruit compared to the oak, which is better integrated than a couple of their other reds, attractive balance of smooth vs firm texture on a quite lingering finish. €30 Ireland. £17 UK. $18-$22 US. 130 KR Denmark. 74.00zł Poland. €10.50 Spain.

Bodegas Santalba
Santalba Reserva 2017 (14.5% abv): 100% Tempranillo from 'selected vineyards in Gimileo' in Rioja Alta (see map), aged for 18 months in American oak. A tad oakier than their very nice Rioja Crianza (noted HERE), but it's concentrated with firm and lively palate while developing enticing sweet / savoury fruit at the same time, pretty serious Reserva style and still relatively young; promising. Importer (Ireland N. and S.): Classic Drinks. £15 UK. 85 Romanian Leu. €19 Germany. $34 Aus.

Bodegas Martínez Corta
Cepas Antiguas Garnacha 2017 (15% abv): 90 year-old bush vines planted at 500m altitude, 15 months in French oak. Chunkier and more powerful than the CA Tempranillo, has lovely maturing meaty fruit though with kirsch tones, fairly punchy finish (typical Garnacha) with lots of lingering fruit. Same price as the Tempranillo in this range: €116.70 3-bottle gift box cellar door Spain.

Bodegas Tobía
Óscar Tobía Gran Reserva 2015 (15% abv): 93% Tempranillo & 7% Graciano; malolactic fermentation in barrel with total of 35 months in French and American oak, bottled unfiltered. Rich and smoky Rioja, concentrated and extracted style yet offers great depth of delicious dark fruit, spicy and firm on the lingering finish; still young, will age very nicely but enjoy it now if you like full-on reds. €39-€44 Ireland. £32 UK. €30-€40 Spain and Germany. €32 Belgium. More of his reds HERE.

Francisco Corres
Fran Corres Selección 12 Barricas Crianza 2017 (14% abv): selected Tempranillo from two blocks at 530m altitude, aged 1 year in new barrels. Aromatic with lightly toasty smoky nose, quite concentrated with tasty sweet / savoury fruit, nice style. €15

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