Archive for September, 2009

September 2009: Wines of Rioja (Spain)

TC_Rioja_Sep 09
Rioja is an old, traditional appellation as well as one of Spain’s most famous wine regions. It’s located in north-central Spain and is noted for its mountainous landscape with four solid seasons as opposed to a long, scorching summer. Reds from Rioja are made primarily from Tempranillo, which is known for its red fruit flavors. Old-style Rioja is noted for flavors of tar, leather and stinky socks. Newer-style Rioja tends to be softer, smoother and sometimes the oak is more prominent. The top ranked wines from this month’s tasting received similar scores across the board; however, the panel was pretty strongly divided on a couple of wines, as noted by their comments/scores (see Lealtanza 2005 Crianza (87 points) $23 & Dominio de Heredia 2006 Rioja (86 points) $15). It looks like the stinkier the socks got, the more some tasters liked it, while others were turned off. And for $15, try and bottle and see how you feel about stinky socks!

EXCELLENT (90-94 points)
Campillo 2001 Reserva Selecta
(92 points)
Region: Rioja, Spain; Varietals: Tempranillo; Retail: $41
Notes: Cigar box and menthol on the nose. Nice notes of cinnamon, blackberries, blueberries – a great balance of fruit, oak and acidity. Nice long finish. (Theresa, 92 pts)
Notes: Nose: boysenberry, incense, cocoa, cedar plank. Palate: plush – nice cigar box, spice, anise, strawberry jam. (Ken, 95 pts)

Izadi 2002 Reserva (92 points)
Region: Rioja, Spain; Varietals: Tempranillo; Retail: $35
Notes: Blueberry nose, love the garrique flavor, fresh plums, spiced & dusty texture, one of my favorites. (Catherine, 93 pts)
Notes: Dark ruby color. Strong bouquet of tobacco, cigar and old, sweaty saddle leather. Medium- to full-bodied. Tannic frame around dark fruit, blackberries and boysenberries. Strong acidity overpowering the fruit. Long tannic finish. Will get better with age. (Jens, 90 pts)

Beronia 2006 Rioja (91 points)
Region: Rioja, Spain; Varietals: Tempranillo; Retail: $17
Notes: Red ruby color. Classic aromas of tobacco, saddle leather, well-balanced, smooth and medium-bodied. Just beautiful. Great texture and acidity. Excellent layers of dark fruit mixed with herbal notes. (Jens, 93 pts)
Notes: Good rich red. Beautiful nuances of fresh red plums and ripe cherries. Great mouthfeel with a very pleasant, long finish. Good wine. (Giuseppe, 91 pts)

VERY GOOD (85-89 points)
Hacienda Don Ramon 2006 Rioja
(89 points)
Region: Rioja, Spain; Varietals: Tempranillo; Retail: $16.50
Notes: Good fruit, tobacco and leather, hints of dill, solid tannin and well integrated, young and ready to age. Modern and balanced. Long finish. (Jerred, 93 pts)

Allende 2004 Rioja
(88 points)
Region: Rioja, Spain; Varietals: Tempranillo; Retail: $27
Notes: Nose: Wet dog, wet hair, hair salon (in a Northern Rhône, good way) cranberries. Palate: tight, focused and tannic, searing focused pomegranate, concentrated, sour red plums, bright with a dark side. (Ken, 91 pts)

Sierra Cantabria 2006 Rioja (88 points)
Region: Rioja, Spain; Varietals: Tempranillo; Retail: $15
Notes: Broad, voluptuous wine with firm tannins, promises rewards for the patient collector. Hints of cherries & cinnamon. (Chris, 88 pts)

Lealtanza 2005 Crianza (87 points)
Region: Rioja, Spain; Varietals: Tempranillo; Retail: $23
Notes: Red, intense smell of potato skin, freshly cut on the palate, very tight notes of red cherries and sweet wild berries. Good flavors. Big wine. This is a conversation wine. Molie Bene! (Giuseppe, 95 pts)
Notes: Ouch! Urine. Cannot get past the horrid smell. Palate is thin. Reststop. (Jerred, 67 pts)

Dominio de Heredia 2006 Rioja (86 points)
Region: Rioja, Spain; Varietals: Tempranillo; Retail: $15
Notes: Nose: cherry stinker, dung, cola espresso grounds, strawberries (fresh). Palate: sweet jammy fruit, baked strawberries, twigs and mint. (Ken, 92 pts)
Notes: Do not smell this. Again reminiscent of an Alpine urinal! Good fruit on palate. Very short finish. (Jerred, 65 pts)

Ermita d San Felices 2006 Rioja (85 points)
Region: Rioja, Spain; Varietals: Tempranillo; Retail: $14
Notes: Much more transparent, a nice summer Rioja! Light & plummy, balsam, might even be good with a chill, tickling of spices, liked this for a quaffer. (Catherine, 85 pts)
Notes: Bright black cherry with back notes of balsamic, satin-like texture, very pretty and feminine. Would never have guessed Rioja … though really like the wine. (Theresa, 90 pts)

Exopto 2006 Big Bang Rioja (85 points)
Region: Rioja, Spain; Varietals: Tempranillo; Retail: $21
Notes: Purple, ripe black cherry, a little thin on the palate, a touch of white pepper, slight acids, clipped on the finish. (Chris, 84 pts)

September Tasting Panel: Jens Strecker, Theresa Shlechta, Ken O’Hara, Catherine Reynolds, Giuseppe Caraturo, Chris Nishiwaki, Jerred Wolff.

We are pleased to welcome Catherine back for a guest appearance (to taste Tempranillo, of course!) as she has been out on a medical leave of absence since last spring.

The following wines are in-stock or can be ordered at the following local wine shops:
Portalis Wine Shop + Wine Bar
email: info@portaliswines.com
phone: 206-783-2007

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September 22, 2009 at 8:06 pm Leave a comment


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