We tried another Rioja within the last year and at first we were really floored at its strength and brashness, and it became a go-to red for a while. However, by the time we cracked the third bottle, it tasted like the smell of an electrical fire—very odd.
So I was a little skeptical to open this particular Rioja and delighted to find it similar to one of the Cotes du Rhone blends I love—big, bold and earthy, yet smooth, round, and balanced, and with a bouquet and taste of violets, spice, and just enough oak. I LOVE the floral wines, and to have the taste match the beautiful nose is a rare treat, like watching an elegant and honest tango.
I’ve come to greatly appreciate blends—they’re, well, less one-dimensional (and often less shrill) than the one-grape varietals. This Rioja is made from Tempranillo, Graciano, and Mazuelo grapes.
So far, this is my second-favorite wine of the year. A great wine at a great price, it retails @19.95/bottle but can be found online for as little as $12.95.
WHAT OTHER REVIEWERS HAVE TO SAY:
ROBERT PARKER: “The 2005 Reserva is medium purple-colored with an excellent nose of cedar, Asian spices, violets, balsamic, and black cherry. Dense and layered on the palate, it is a powerful offering from an excellent vintage that will benefit from another 5-7 years of cellaring and which should drink well through 2030. It is a great value as well as an ideal introduction to traditional Rioja.”
INTERNATIONAL WINE CELLAR: “Bright ruby-red. Complex, aromatic bouquet of red berries, dried cherry, sassafras, tobacco and cedary oak. On the palate, dark fruits are joined by mounting vanilla and oak spice character. Packs a solid punch and finishes with very good spicy persistence.”