Archive for ‘Rioja’

March 27, 2020

Faustino I Gran Reserva Rioja, 2001

Faustino I Gran Reserva Rioja, 2001

It’s the end of the world as we know it.  Better make the best of it.

 

Was this better than the 2006 we so eagerly sipped over the holidays?  No.  It wasn’t.  The 2006 was better.  Was the 2001 good?  Oh, Jesus, Joseph and Mary: Heavenly.

 

This was as warm and cozy as lolling on a [faux] bearskin in front of the fire, I see movies set in the Alps with fondue on the table and apres-ski soft core sex.  Deeply satisfying.  Lovely.  But, I should add, it just wasn’t quite as hardcore, as explosive, as the 2006.  Despite the price.

 

So there you go. Two delectable poisons, both superb, just one finished .01 hundredths of a second later and takes silver.

 

Price: Expensive.  Like over $60 before tax.  But you know what?  It’s the end of the world as we know it.

 

Market Liquidity: If you have any liquidity left in the market, buy wine.

January 3, 2020

Faustino Gran Reserva Rioja, 2006

Faustino Gran Reserva Rioja, 2006

Look what Santa brought down the chimney? A very old bottle of Tempranillo.

 

A beautiful wine, quite up front, luscious on the palate with pronounced and perhaps a too assertive woodiness, gorgeous depth and nuanced on every sip.  It drank spectacularly but not cohesively with food.  It shone just on its own.  And it shone like a beacon.

 

Decanter gave it 95 and I think Gismondi 93, but aside from the points let’s just ask a few simple questions.  First, Clos de Soleil: The Signature is a little more, the Reserve Red $15 more.  Over at Culmina?  Their flagship Hypothesis is well above asking.  Blue Mountain has overpriced their reds this year putting a simple Reserve Pinot into the stratosphere.  It goes on and on across BC.  In short, for under $40, you can drink a 15-year-old majestic Rioja, made with love and passion and shipped to BC and marked up beyond belief, or you can spend more, and lay something down, and wait.  And wait.

 

Here is something endearing from a bad translation on the bottle: “The best Tempranillo grape [sic]…a long stay in bottle and passion, a lot of passion.”

 

Price: $38 at BC Liquor if you can source it.

 

Market Liquidity: I don’t know about “in the bottle and passion” combined, but it is swoon-worthy.

 

February 26, 2019

El Pacto Rioja, 2016

Everything you want in a Rioja at about the price you want to pay for a Rioja.  Drinks like something more expensive, silky tannins, assertive structure, decent fruit, some nice dark hints of charcoal and chocolate; full bodied but not flabby.  Food friendly, a decent sipper, and a lovely label to boot.  There will be multiples down the road.

 

Price: $30 at Kitsilano Wine Cellar

 

Market Liquidity: Surrender to the old school finesse.

September 14, 2018

Marques de Caceres Rioja Reserva, 2011

Probably the first bottle of Rioja I ever drank was MdC; a Crianza of course.  I would hazard a guess, based on the volume and availability, many North Americans and not too few British would echo the sentiment.  Marques de Caceres is an omnipresent red which usually comes on strong and tannic and decent in a bistro but nothing of note.  I’ve always thought of MdC as the Casio watch brand of wine labels.

 

The Reserva is less available, at least in Western Canada; the BCL has the Gran Reserva.  We’re not going to shell out another $40 to compare, but I’m going to suggest that if you love the oak of Rioja get the GR but if you just have a hankering for fine Tempranillo go the Reserva route, with less time on the cask but still a fine selection off the vine and some love and care in the aging.

 

At seven years this vintage is a blast of candy store licorice, followed by a heady, alcoholic, tannic bomb of cherry, plum, charcoal, moist earth then followed on the finish with traces of oak and vanilla.  Although top heavy it’s ludicrously food friendly (which we drank with a New York Times beef stew braised in Dijon, cognac, wine and beef stock).  Assertive, not terribly acidic, very masculine.

 

Price: $40 at Kits Wine Cellar (but with a half case purchase, reduced by 10%; no such luck at BCL).

 

Market Liquidity: Like running with the bulls in Pamplona, this wine cannot be held back.

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November 6, 2017

Vina Eguia Rioja Reserva, 2011

Yeah.  So.  Not Rioja’s finest hour.  It’s a close but no cigar vintage.  We did not find it elegant or balanced or rounded, as promised.  We found it a bit uneven, with a vanilla that’s at the fore (and not in a good way) and a softness to the fruit that was decent and palatable but not memorable.

 

You can find this in the US for $12 a bottle.  A steal.  You can buy this in Saskatchewan for $18.  Very good value.  But at nearly $30 in BC with tax it’s like fruit past its prime.

 

Price: $26 plus at Kitsilano Wine Cellars.

 

Market Liquidity: Polka dots and plaid.

October 12, 2017

Campo Viejo Rioja Reserva, 2012

The reds we like, the reds that really shine without breaking the bank, have slowly moved into a break the bank category: More and more we’re shelling out $28-42 for a bottle to really bow down to.  And of course enjoy on a Tuesday night.

 

Having said that, it’s important to remember that drinkable (if somewhat forgettable) and totally decent everyday reds at or just under the $20 mark are still out there.  Hard to find in BC (and in my view it’s like playing the slots, you spend $100 on five bottles to find one keeper, whereas you could have 2.5 totally extremely gratifying at that price, no loss…)  The Campo Viejo comes in a totally palatable Tempranillo and a food friendly reserva, both under $20 before tax.  Do I hear “open bar” anyone?  How about, even, a palatable house wine under $40?

 

If you like the classic plummy peppery vanilla oak that Robert Parker does, you can’t go wrong with the reserva.  It’s like a lesser version of those monumental Napa reds he scores in the 94 point range, without the lingering depth or interest, but certainly with the same flavour profile.

 

Price: $18.50 at BC Liquor.

 

Market Liquidity: Like a mediocre SNL impersonation it hits the mark, but barely.

July 24, 2017

CVNE Rioja Reserva, 2012 & CVNE Rioja Crianza, 2012

The best tasting, best drinking red wine in its class, the best red wine under $40 in BC, period.  And, I might add, much better than many BC reds up to half the price more.  We have held off posting until assured there was no more to be found in the Lower Mainland.  Joking.  Half joking.

 

Marquis had a superb pre-offer at, with tax, $25 for the Crianza and $36 for the reserve.  We bought a lot.  We went back for more.  Marquis was sold out.  We sourced it at Everything Wine.  We bought a lot.  We went back for more.  EW was sold out.  We sourced it at Kits Wine Cellar.  We bought a lot.  We went back for more.  KWC was sold out.

 

On the plus side, maybe we were the only ones smart enough to buy up this wine?  I don’t think I’ve drunk, and stashed away, so much of one bottle as I have of this year’s CVNE release.  (The Monopole was similarly outstanding if slightly less impressive.)

 

These reds are the most comforting, smooth, rich and concentrated blends you can get at such a reasonable price point.  But price be damned, they are just really good tempranillos.  The Wine Spectator said the Reserva has depth and intensity and gave it 93 points.  (Can you imagine a BC red getting 93 points and going on sale for less than $40?).  That’s a fair summation.  But it’s also just plain likable in the most approachable and delectable way.  As you can see from the group picture, we simply can’t get enough.

 

The Crianza is, yes, lesser, but only by a margin so slim it could be a BC election; and what a wonderful sipper still, and just gorgeous to share at dinner without breaking the bank.  The WS gave it 91 points.  And in Ontario you can buy it with change from a $20.  In BC we have to cough up more and it sells out quicker but let’s give a shout out to Rioja.

 

Price: See above.

 

Market Liquidity: These Riojas remind me of that Hugh Johnson quote that wine is a marriage of nature and aesthetics.  To which I think he meant what is real and beautiful.  Because these babies are real beautiful.

April 11, 2017

CVNE Monopole Rioja Blanco, 2015

Nothing about this wine, drinking it, no words sound good: Assertive.  Astringent. Metallic.  And yet it is nothing but pure pleasure; nutty and lemony and complex.  It is bottled sunshine.  There is nothing so striking as a bold, balanced, boisterous Rioja Blanco.  There is something so sensationally Spanish about it, somewhere between Sauvignon Blanc and Sherry.  Of course it bears the “golden ticket” of 90 points on its collar, which is a bugbear, but nevertheless…

 

Price: $22 at Marquis, and worth every cent.

 

Market Liquidity: When pointster and anti-pointster see eye to eye.

February 16, 2017

Sierra Cantabria Rioja, 2011

sierra-cantabria-rioja-2011

Ever taste wine with friends, take notes, compare them, and find that what one person found heavy and tannic another found fruity and light?  Or, more typically, buy wine specifically because of the reviewer’s blurb—only to be wholly let down?  This is that experience in a nutshell.

 

Here’s the professional review: “…dense, rich red cherry and liquorice aromas…sour cherry, coffee and nutmeg notes and the oak is fully integrated.”

 

We just couldn’t get past the flatness of it, the one note, a very tepid Tempranillo, immediately forgettable.  Not cheap either.  And this was after our splurge on D’Orrance a few weeks back based on a stellar review which was a match made in heaven.  So it goes.

 

Price: $30 at Everything Wine.

 

Market Liquidity: Hugh Johnson called Sierra Cantabria “drinkable and good” and I’ll give it that.

February 6, 2017

Finca 10 Rioja, 2014

finca-10-rioja-2014

The epitome of cheap and cheerful.  A wonderful Wednesday red.  Fruity, approachable, marginally tannic.  Maraschino syrup against a light peppery bite; think grenadine mixed with Chartreuse.  No weight, feather light for a Tempranillo, and as weak on the nose as the palate and the finish.  But food friendly in a big way and welcome (and warming) during this incredibly long and frigid winter.

 

Price: Regularly $16.99, but on sale at Everything Wine for an astonishing $12.99.  Thanks you EW.

 

Market Liquidity: A bird in the hand.