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24 April 2023

Rioja: 10 to 20 year-old reds.

This selection of eight gracefully maturing reds in some ways epitomises what many people would consider 'old' cask-aged Rioja to be all about. Although, as seen in three previous posts (Rioja 5 to 10 year-old red wines, Rioja reds less than 5 years old, Rioja 15 white wines), with a new generation of winemakers challenging the narrow perception that barrel age equals quality, there are plenty of great wines to be enjoyed from younger red (and white) Rioja too. This snapshot spans vintages 2012 and 2011 to 2004, 2003 and one delicious wine exceeding twenty years of age, 2001 (a Rioja odyssey?).

Bodegas Manzanos Voché Vino de Autor 2001 (13.5% abv): Tempranillo, Graciano and Garnacha from vineyards in Rioja Oriental planted at 400 metres above sea level. Fermentation in stainless-steel tanks with 3 weeks' maceration followed by more than 5 years of ageing, half of which was in old American oak barrels. Still surprisingly youthful offering delicious mix of savoury and sweet fruit, concentrated elegant finish. Lovely mature Rioja. UK and Ireland importer Alliance Wine (bottle shot at top of page from alliancewine.com) suggests matching with roast pork, chorizo and aged cheeses. £25-£30 UK. €35 Ireland. €25-€35 Germany. $75 US (?).
Bodegas Muriel 'Viñas Viejas' Gran Reserva 2011 (14% abv): 35 to 40 year-old Tempranillo (bush and trellised vines) from Rioja Alavesa, aged 2 years in 225L American and French oak barrels, another 3+ in bottle before release. Enticing smoky and savoury meaty nose, showing some light grip of tannin while layered with complex mature flavours, dried fruits and vintage cheese, nice lingering finish. Classic ageing Rioja style. Importer Classic Drinks, Northern and Republic of Ireland. €16 Spain. $60 Singapore. $22-$30 US. 150KR Denmark. R$336 Brazil.

Bodegas Ollauri Conde de los Andes 2004 (13.5% abv): Probably mostly Tempranillo, exact ageing regime unknown. Amazing colour with superb nose of matured cheese and lots of developed savoury fruit, lovely balance; very good old Rioja that may still age further. €64 Classic Drinks, Northern and Republic of Ireland. £60 UK: importer Moreno Wines calls 2004 'one of Rioja's best ever vintages'. CHF 420. $100 CA.
Conde de los Andes 2003: Details as above more or less. Much more developed and savoury but it's still holding out; shows the big difference between these two vintages: 2003 heatwave and draught, 2004 much more balanced growth and ripening.
Bodegas Domeco de Jarauta
Viña Marro Gran Reserva 2012 (14% abv): 70% Tempranillo and 30% Garnacha, aged 30 months in barrel. Another delicious red that doesn't look or feel 10 years old, mellow and maturing while still quite firm texture, spicy black fruits combine with tasty meaty flavours on the lingering finish. Classic but more structured style. €27 Ireland. €16-€18 Spain. €18-€24 Germany.
Bodegas Martínez Lacuesta Hinia 2012 (13.5% abv): 40+ year-old vineyards at altitude in the Haro area: 85% Tempranillo, 10% Graciano, 5% Mazuelo; 3 years in American oak. Lovely maturing nose, subtle concentration of sweet / savoury fruit, still showing a touch of tannin with complex lingering flavours. Very good. €24.50 Vinos Tito (Dublin). €19.25 Spain. £23-£27 UK. $32-$40 US.
Campeador Gran Reserva 2012 (14% abv): 50-50 Garnacha Tempranillo; 30-36 months in American oak. A tad cheesier and meatier on the nose with similar gorgeous sweet / savoury fruit too, again has a little bit of grip and more weight than above with lovely lingering finish. Also very good. €33 Vinos Tito (Dublin). €28 Spain. £38 UK. 200 Zl Poland.

Bodegas Santalba Ogga Reserva 2012 (14.5% abv): 90% Tempranillo (60 years old) plus '10 others', 20 months in barrel. Hides its age well, enticing savoury fruit with firm and concentrated mouthfeel, plenty of flavours and complexity, long taut finish, almost closes up despite 10 years' maturity. Lovely, more to come if you really wanted to keep it. Classic Drinks Ireland. £25 UK (2015). €35 Belgium. $45 US.

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