- Published: 04 December 2016 04 December 2016
Wines from this famous part of north west Spain are part of the modern British psyche. In this first segment of notes we taste 1 crianza and 2 reserva’s. These examples are great examples of what benchmark Rioja should taste like - rich and dangerously pleasurable.
For those that are unsure, here is the definition of the 3 designations of wine based on ageing that you currently see in Rioja (from Wikipedia):
A crianza is wine aged for at least two years, at least one of which was in oak. Rioja Reserva is aged for at least three years, of which at least one year is in oak. Finally, Rioja Gran Reserva wines have been aged at least two years in oak and three years in bottle.
I am aware that many people are reining in the spending these days but I would argue that, for the reserva’s listed below, you’d be hard pressed to buy anything of even close quality in a bar. So why not say to your friends, “let’s meet at home but enjoy some really special wines!”? The point being that these wines offer a memorable drinking experience and are worth paying more for.
In order of tasting:
Viña Pomal Crianza 2013 - Made from 100% tempranillo, the classic Spanish country grape that is round, fruity and perfect for washing down whole pates of food or large tracts of conversation. Crianza in this case means the wine has had one year in oak, in this case new American, and then at least a year in the bottle. That gives it a nice balance of accessibility and layers of complexity you’d expect from Rioja but without the intensity and age-worthiness of the reserva’s and gran reserva's.
Do let it breathe for a while so that the blackcurrant flavour get a chance to appear. The trademark, liquorice and background oak are there but by no means overpowering. Great party wine - try Ocado
Lovely warmth & roundness from the vanilla oak character. Elegant perfume of Autumn, Woody, berries, herbs, liquorice ... open fires... mature cheese plate.. intense ripe blackberries kept under control by lovely tannin... lingering luxurious finish. A Rioja #VIP for sure & well exceptionally priced at £20 for 6 or £23 for a single bottle at Majestic or £22 for a single at WaitroseCellar
Muga Reserva 2012 - Dark blackcurrants, underlying leather and, as always with Muga, the trademark seductive vanilla from the oak. The wine is aged first in huge oak vats before being transferred to smaller barrels 2 years, followed by a further 2 years in the bottle before sale.
I remember a really fun tasting at the Bodega a few years back and all the richness of aromas and landscape come through in the wine. It’s always a pleasure.
I almost find it hard to share this bottle with a meal. Just a taste of good Spanish ham or manchego cheese and then just give in to the pleasure.
At £15 a bottle (when you buy 6) from Majestic, this has to be the ultimate bargain.
Join our mailing list for occasional updates of what we have been up to:
Soave: volcanic wines with elegance and longevity
Sitting inside the ancient castle walls inside the town of Soave, a short drive from Verona in northern Italy, the unique slightly almond aroma of the indigenous grape, Garganega, rises gently from my glass. The castle sprawls up the side of an extinct volcano that gives the region its variant soil structures that mark out the better quality of Soave wines.
An American In Paris; Tanisha Townsend (@GirlMeetsGlass) discusses podcasts, Paris wine bars, & what she's drinking at the moment
Tanisha Townsend decided to move to Paris 4 years ago after regularly passing through the city en route to the world’s most famous vineyards. In fact, it was about 2 years ago at the Printemps de Champagne Bouzy Rouge tasting in Reims that I saw (who we shall now refer to as) GirlMeetsGlass chirpily speaking to her web followers on Snapchat.
Wine tasting in Galicia: The pilgrims search for Albarino
The cathedral in Santiago de Compostela, the final resting place of Saint James, rises out of the landscape, infested with antiquity. The rambling steep streets give way to shafts of dramatic light, emblazoned chapels, and tightly packed tapas bars, dusty, as old novels pressed together in antiquarian bookshops.
Interview: (Re)Defining the Entre-Deux-Mers, climate change & tasting with Stephane Dupuch
Driving into the Entre-Deux-Mers region from the north, the vineyards roll out like a bright green deep-pile carpet across the undulating land. It’s hard not to be excited about tasting wines with so much heritage, as we head to Chateau-Sainte-Marie to meet with 5th generation owner, Stéphane Dupuch.
Wine tasting in northern Catalonia in the foothills of the Pyrenees
It’s been a hot couple of weeks here trekking around northern Catalonia. From the homeland and backdrop to surrealist Salvador Dali’s world to dramatic remnants of the volcano park an hour away, this place is a land of rough-hewn vistas and rustic hospitality.
Talking food and wine & Carluccio's motto: "MOF MOF"
Carluccio's deli and restaurants are a high-street staple, where great flavours in food blend easily with quality wines on the list. Following the death of the charismatic founder, Antonio Carluccio, his spirit lives on in style and philosophy. Nick Breeze talks to Head of International Operations (especially where wine is concerned!), Mike Stocks about wine-list tips, food matching and the great man of "mof mof":