Can I offer you a protective layer of something mouth-pleasingly delightful to take your mind of this, the tail end of winter?

These wines from Rioja combine the core components of quality: complexity of flavour, value for money and colossal scope for pleasure. 

 One bottle is never enough. We owe it to our bodies and our minds to drink responsibly, therefor quotas must be set by our appetites (and mine is huge!). 

Castillo San Lorenzo Rioja Tesco

Castillo San Lorenzo Reserva, 2010
Grapes: mazuelo, graciano, tempranillo

Ok, this is your “smash’n’grab” bottle from Tesco. It is good quality and damn cheerful. Lovely mouthful of cherries and blackberries, with soft silky tannins and pleasant vanilla oak flavour. A great weekday playmate!

RRP £6.50 from Tesco

Viñedos de Altura, Crianza, 2012, Bodegas Ramon Bilbao
Grapes: 50% garnacha, 50% tempranillo

Very comforting mouthfeel with plenty of spice and gentle but present oakiness. Very enjoyable. I immediately thought of a plate of cured hams, succulent Jamón ibérico with soft, nearly runny inside, chorizo tortilla.

RRP £12.95

baron de ley rioja

Baron de Ley Reserva, 2010
Grape: 100% tempranillo

Lovely red colour, especially around the edges of the meniscus. Ripe plum fruit on the nose, with hint of vanilla form the oak. Great taste with soft tannins for a long gentle finish. This wine is really tasty and great value at £12.49. I think I bought a bottle for even less in-store at Waitrose - worth checking for promotional discounts.

Roasted pork cutlets with herbs would go well. Really easy wine and well priced for a night in chatting with loved ones / friends!

RRP £12.49

Cune Imperial Reserva, 2010
Grapes: 85% tempranillo, 10% graciano, 5% mazuleo

Delicious red fruit nose, really attractive! Really nice balance in the mouth of soft vanilla, ripe bursting red fruits, strawberry and cherry. Good length but not overpowering, so that you can enjoy a few glasses without having tannic-lock-jaw. A good tip for quality home drinking at a reasonable price.

RRP £21.99

olagosa oro rioja

Olagosa Oro, 2008, Bodegas Perica
Grapes: 95% tempranillo, 5% graciano

Wow, a big impressive mouthful of wine. Complex aromas of leather, tobacco, lovely touches of blackberry fruit. This is a ponderous wine to drink slowly and possibly alone, so as not to be distracted. 8 years old, well structured and so has many more on the clock.

It’s pricey at £46.95 but is it worth it? I suppose the real question is: can you afford it? I loved it.

RRP £46.95

Good foods to accompany can only enhance the pleasure. Well selected bottles, a genius recipe, wrapped up in the evening comfort of doing whatever it is that makes you smile. That could be getting cosy with loved one, writing letters of emails, watching a movie, or relying on a chunky book to transport the mind to other places. Whatever it is, let rip!


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