2011 Rioja Grand Tasting: The Food Friendly Beauty of Barrel Aged Tempranillo

5/2/2011 Rioja Tasting SF
morning seminar

2011 RIOJA GRAND TASTING: 197 WINES FROM 63 PRODUCERS – Westin St. Francis, 32nd Imperial Floor, San Francisco, California (5/2/2011)

This was an admirably well produced and organized event. It started with a morning tasting seminar, featuring 10 well chosen Tempranillos, of different styles from different producers, a couple of whom were featured on our seminar panel. The panel was moderated by Philadelphia-based wine consultant and wine educator Marnie Old. A very informative pamphlet was prepared for the seminar, and a thoroughly well organized and helpful tasting book was created for the grand tasting as well. There was enough time in the course of the five-hour grand tasting for me to get to nearly every producer, and to try virtually everything that was poured–a total of 197 wines from 63 producers. There was also a little food available during the short break between seminar and grand tasting to help create a base on which to taste (and spit) a vast quantity of wines. And, very generously, there was a bag of “swag” for participants, which included a “Vibrant Rioja” chef’s apron, Vibrant Rioja pen, Vibrant Rioja key chain and a video about Rioja wines. For a wine region looking to educate and make an impact on a lot of tastemakers of the American wine market, this was a job well and effectively executed.

The overall effect of the day was to remind me what a food friendly wine Spanish Tempranillo is. It is lighter bodied than most big red wines these days, which, like lighter bodied Pinot Noir, makes it work with a wider variety of foods. The Spanish tradition is to age Tempranillo both in barrel and bottle for many months, which softens some of the tannins that otherwise make a lot of young reds a terrible choice with food. That being said, I note that my point scores were generally in the mid- to high-80s for the vast majority of the wines in the grand tasting. I need to emphasize that this doesn’t mean I didn’t like them. Far from it. It simply means, for me, that many of them lacked the complexity that I look for in wines that I score 90 points and higher. I quite enjoyed the wines that I scored from, say, 87 to 89 points, and would definitely enjoy them with a wide variety of food. They are well made, light-medium bodied, and clearly convey a terroir sense of barrel and bottle aged Tempranillo from Rioja. They are also, generally, a wine bargain, ranging in price, for the most part, from $10 to $23. The ones that I scored from the mid- to high-80s simply lacked the complexity on the palate and tannic structure requisite for aging that I look for in red wines to which I can give 92 or more points. But these are highly enjoyable wines on the whole. A few of them were showing more of the American (and sometimes French) oak vessels that they are fermented and aged in than I care for in wines that I can pair with food, which caused me to grade them lower than 85 points. And a few were just not balanced or particularly good at all. The vast majority, however, were admirable products of a long Spanish tradition, and it was great to be able to taste a wide selection of them, from similar vintages, from such a vast array of Rioja producers. Like an intense foreign language experience, this was indeed a total immersion in the essence of wine from Rioja.

Ninety percent of the vineyards of Rioja are planted to red varieties, and 85% of Rioja’s red vines are Tempranillo. There are a few other red grapes also grown: traditionally Garnacha (Grenache), Graciano (also known as Tinta Miuda in Portugal, and Morrastel in Languedoc-Roussillon, not to be confused with Monastrel, which is another name for Mourvedre), and Mazuelo (Carignan), with more recent experimentation also going on with Cabernet Sauvignon. The dominant white grape is Viura (known elsewhere as Macabeo), along with lesser amounts of Malvasia and Garnacha Blanca. A new entrant amongst white varieties, which we got to taste a sample of at the seminar, is a mutated green-skinned version of Tempranillo, called Tempranillo Blanco. It was discovered in 1988 by a grower in the village of Murillo de Rio Leza. DNA typing verified that it is truly Tempranillo, but an albino variant with green-gold pigmentation rather than blue-black. It was propagated and studied for two decades, and only recently approved for use in Rioja. We tasted an example from Bodegas Valdemar, their 2010 Inspiración, which was aged for 12 months on its lees in 100% French oak barrels. It suggested a cross between a dry Pinot Gris and a tasty white Bordeaux. It had a touch of the oily texture I often get in white Bordeaux, with its Semillon component, and a complex mix of tart peach, quince, green fruit and mineral flavors. I rated it 92 points. It’s pricey at $35, which reflects its relative rarity at the moment, but based on this sample, it seems like a very promising new variety for the region.

A distinctive feature of Rioja wines, besides the dominance of Tempranillo, is the barrel maturation. The 225-liter “barrica bordelsa,” which was introduced in the mid-1800s, is required by DOCa regulations. Those regulations also specify minimum aging periods for each official category of wine. Red wines labeled Crianza and Reserva must be aged at least one year in oak, and at least another year in bottle. Gran Reservas are required to spend at least two years in barrel, and three years in bottle. Many producers age their wines in oak for much longer than these requisite minimums. American oak barrels, with their distinctive vanilla and dill flavors, are the most common, but tighter grained French oak is coming into increasing use, with many producers using a mix of new and used American and French oak barrels.

5/2/2011 Rioja Tasting SF

My favorite wines of the day, those that I rated 91 points or higher, came from a total of ten of the 63 producers. These included some of my longtime favorite Rioja producers, including Marqués de Murrieta, Muga and the distinctive, long-aged-before-release López de Heredia. My top ten producers in the tasting, with at least one wine rated 91 points or higher, were:
Contino
EgoMei
Faustino
Viña Herminia
López de Heredia
Marqués de Cáceres
Marqués de Murrieta
Muga
Valedmar (Martinez Bujanda),
and
Viñedos de Páganos

Other producers that presented good quality, well made Riojas in the 88 to 90 point range, and that offer very good values included:
Finca Allende
Castillo de Cuzcurrita
Dinastía Vivanco
Federico Paternina
LAN
La Rioja Alta
Luis Cañas
Marqués de Riscal
Ontañón
Remelluri
Remírez de Ganuza,
and
Ysios

My favorite whites, scoring 91 points or more, were
2001 López de Heredia Blanco Crianza Viña Gravonia – 93+ points
2010 Bodegas Valdemar (Martinez Bujanda) Tempranillo Blanco Inspiración – 92 points

My favorite rosé, or rosado, was the 2009 Faustino Rosado Faustino VII – 91 points

My favorite reds, scoring 91 points or higher were:
2005 Contino Reserva – 91 points
2007 EgoMei – 91 points
2005 EgoMei Alma – 92 points
2006 Viña Herminia Excelsus – 91+ points
2002 López de Heredia Reserva Viña Bosconia – 91+ points
1991 López de Heredia Gran Reserva Viña Tondonia – 93+ points
2008 Marqués de Cáceres “MC” – 91 points
2001 Marqués de Murrieta Castillo Ygay Gran Reserva Especial – 92 points
2004 Bodegas Muga Gran Reserva Prado Enea – 91 points
2004 Bodegas Valdemar (Martinez Bujanda) Conde de Valdemar Reserva – 91 points
2004 Bodegas Valdemar (Martinez Bujanda) Inspiración Edición Limitada – 91 points
2007 Viñedos de Páganos Rioja La Nieta – 92 points
2007 Viñedos de Páganos Rioja El Puntido – 91 points

I again congratulate and applaud the producer of the event, the Consejo Regulador de la Denominacion de Origen Calificada (DOCa) Rioja, for the terrific organization and comprehensiveness of this tasting. Their program indicates that this is the “1st annual” Rioja grand tasting in San Francisco, and I look forward to their return for many more years to come. For more on the producers and wines represented, see my detailed tasting notes below.

5/2/2011 Rioja Tasting SF

Allende

  • 2005 Finca Allende Rioja Allende – Spain, La Rioja, Rioja
    Ripe berry, oak, plum nose; ripe berry, oak, plum, cedar palate; medium finish 87+ points (100% Tempranillo) (87 pts.)
  • 2005 Finca Allende Rioja Calvario – Spain, La Rioja, Rioja
    Dark purple red violet color; oak, cedar, plum nose; plum, cedar, oak palate; medium-plus finish 90+ points (90% Tempranillo, 8% Garnacha, 2% Graciano) (90 pts.)
  • 2007 Finca Allende Rioja Aurus – Spain, La Rioja, Rioja
    Deep berry, vanilla nose; deep berry, molasses, black fruit palate; medium-plus finish 90+ points (85% Tempranillo, 15% Graciano) (90 pts.)

Antaño

  • 2009 Bodegas Antaño Rioja – Spain, La Rioja, Rioja
    Carbonic, black fruit nose; carbonic, black fruit palate; medium finish (6 mos. in American oak) (86 pts.)

Antiguas Viñas de Rioja

5/2/2011 Rioja Tasting SF

  • 2008 Bodegas Antiguas Viñas de Rioja Tempranillo VML (Viña Maria Luisa) – Spain, La Rioja, La Rioja Alta, Rioja
    Carbonic maceration, tart red fruit nose; carbonic maceration, tart currant palate; medium finish (86 pts.)
  • 2008 Bodegas Antiguas Viñas de Rioja Tempranillo VML (Viña Maria Luisa) Coleccion – Spain, La Rioja, La Rioja Alta, Rioja
    Black fruit, fig nose; soft, black fruit, fig palate; medium finish (88 pts.)
  • 2008 Bodegas Antiguas Viñas de Rioja Rioja Audius Vendemia Seleccionada – Spain, La Rioja, La Rioja Alta, Rioja
    Berry, plum nose; berry, plum palate; medium finish (89 pts.)

Artadi

  • 2007 Artadi Rioja Viñas de Gain – Spain, La Rioja, Rioja
    Dark purple red violet color; ripe berry, black cherry nose; light-medium bodied, berry, black cherry palate; medium finish (88 pts.)

Baron de Ley

  • 2004 Baron de Ley Rioja Reserva – Spain, La Rioja, Rioja
    Rich, berry, dill, herbal nose; rich, soft, berry, black fruit palate; medium finish 87+ points (87 pts.)
  • 2001 Baron de Ley Rioja Gran Reserva – Spain, La Rioja, Rioja
    VA, mature, dill, red plum nose; mature, tart plum palate with near medium acidity; medium finish (88 pts.)

Berberana

  • 2007 Berberana Rioja Crianza Viña Alarde – Spain, La Rioja, Rioja
    Plum, black fruit, tar nose; soft, plum, black fruit, tar palate; medium finish (88 pts.)
  • 2006 Berberana Rioja Reserva – Spain, La Rioja, Rioja
    Berry, plum, chocolate nose; soft, berry, plum, chocolate palate; medium finish (88 pts.)
  • 2003 Berberana Rioja Gran Reserva – Spain, La Rioja, Rioja
    Fig, black fruit nose; soft, fig, black fruit palate; medium finish 88+ points (88 pts.)

Beronia

  • 2007 Bodegas Beronia Rioja – Spain, La Rioja, Rioja
    Carbonic maceration, currant nose; carbonic maceration, currant palate; medium finish (86 pts.)
  • 2006 Bodegas Beronia Rioja Crianza – Spain, La Rioja, Rioja
    Plum, black fruit nose; soft, light-medium bodied, tart plum palate; medium finish 86+ points (86 pts.)
  • 2006 Bodegas Beronia Rioja Reserva – Spain, La Rioja, Rioja
    Black fruit, oak nose; soft, black fruit, oak palate; medium finish (86 pts.)
  • 2001 Bodegas Beronia Rioja Gran Reserva – Spain, La Rioja, Rioja
    Black fruit, tar nose; soft, black fruit, tar palate; medium finish (87 pts.)
  • 2004 Bodegas Beronia Rioja III a.C. – Spain, La Rioja, Rioja
    Opaque purple red violet color; ripe black fruit, chocolate, berry nose; soft, berry, chocolate, black fruit palate; medium-plus finish 90+ points (90 pts.)

Bilbainas

  • 2008 Bodegas Bilbainas Rioja Viña Zaco – Spain, La Rioja, La Rioja Alta, Rioja
    Very dark ruby color; nice berry, red berry, ripe plum, vanilla nose; tight, tart berry, red berry, tart plum, vanilla palate; needs 1-2 years; medium finish 88+ points (100% Tempranillo; aged 9 mos. in 2-4 year old 50% French and 50% American oak barrels) (88 pts.)
  • 2007 Bodegas Bilbainas Rioja Crianza Viña Pomal – Spain, La Rioja, La Rioja Alta, Rioja
    Plum, oak nose; plum, oak palate; medium finish (85 pts.)
  • 2005 Bodegas Bilbainas Rioja La Vicalanda de Vina Pomal Reserva – Spain, La Rioja, La Rioja Alta, Rioja
    Berry, plum nose; poised, soft, berry, plum palate; medium finish (18 mos. in American oak) (87 pts.)
  • 2003 Bodegas Bilbainas Rioja La Vicalanda de Vina Pomal Reserva – Spain, La Rioja, La Rioja Alta, Rioja
    Black fruit, berry nose; black fruit, berry, dill palate; medium finish 87+ points (12 mos. in 100% French oak, 60% new) (87 pts.)

Bretón

  • 2009 Bodegas Bretón Rioja Iuvene – Spain, La Rioja, Rioja
    Murky, black fruit nose; murky, black fruit palate; medium finish (85% Tempranillo, 5% Garnacha, 5% Graciano, 5% Mazuelo) (85 pts.)
  • 2008 Bodegas Bretón Rioja Loriñón Crianza – Spain, La Rioja, Rioja
    Tart black fruit nose; tart black fruit, tart berry palate; medium finish (86 pts.)

Campillo

  • 2001 Bodegas Campillo Rioja Reserva Selecta – Spain, La Rioja, Rioja
    Herbaceous, tart plum nose; soft, tart plum, herbaceous palate; medium finish 88+ points (88 pts.)
  • 1994 Bodegas Campillo Rioja Gran Reserva – Spain, La Rioja, Rioja
    Redolent, black fruit, cigar smoke nose; dill, tart black fruit, tart currant palate; medium finish 88+ points (88 pts.)

Campo Viejo

  • 2007 Campo Viejo Rioja Crianza – Spain, La Rioja, Rioja
    Oak, baked plum nose; light-medium bodied, oak, baked plum palate; short-medium finish (85% Tempranillo, 10% Garnacha, 5% Mazuelo; 80% French and 20% American oak) (82 pts.)
  • 2006 Campo Viejo Rioja Reserva – Spain, La Rioja, Rioja
    Dill, currant nose; light bodied, dill, currant palate; short-medium finish (85% Tempranillo, 10% Graciano, 5% Mazuelo) (83 pts.)
  • 2003 Campo Viejo Rioja Gran Reserva – Spain, La Rioja, Rioja
    Maturing plum, red berry nose; light-medium bodied, red plum, berry palate; medium finish 87+ points (85% Tempranillo, 10% Graciano, 5% Mazuelo; 80% French, 20% American oak: 24 mos. in oak, 36 mos. in bottle) (87 pts.)

Castillo de Cuzcurrita

  • 2002 Bodegas Castillo de Cuzcurrita Rioja Señorío de Cuzcurrita – Spain, La Rioja, Rioja
    Mature, plum, dill nose; mature, plum, dill, tart berry palate; medium finish (89 pts.)
  • 2001 Bodegas Castillo de Cuzcurrita Rioja Cerrado del Castillo – Spain, La Rioja, Rioja
    Mature, baked berry, spice, black fruit nose; tasty, baked berry, spice, black fruit palate; medium-plus finish 90+ points (90 pts.)

Conde de Hervias

  • 2009 Conde de Hervias Rioja Mencos – Spain, La Rioja, Rioja
    Tart berry, herbal, plum nose; light-medium bodied, tart red berry, ripe currant palate; medium finish 88+ points (88 pts.)

Conde de Jauregu

  • 2006 Conde de Jauregui Rioja Crianza – Spain, La Rioja, Rioja
    Plum nose; soft plum, red berry palate; medium finish (87 pts.)

Contino

  • 2005 Bodegas y Viñedos del Contino Rioja Contino Reserva – Spain, La Rioja, La Rioja Alavesa, Rioja
    Aromatic, berry, black fruit, dill nose; silky textured, tart berry, tart plum palate with balance; medium-plus finish (91 pts.)

Corral

  • 2006 Bodegas Corral Rioja Don Jacobo Crianza – Spain, La Rioja, Rioja
    Berry, coffee nose; berry, coffee, fig palate; medium finish (88 pts.)
  • 2008 Bodegas Corral Rioja Don Jacobo Ecologico – Spain, La Rioja, Rioja
    Tart black fruit nose; tart black fruit, herbal palate; medium finish (87 pts.)

C.V.N.E. (Cune)

  • 1999 C.V.N.E. (Compañía Vinícola del Norte de España) Rioja Imperial Gran Reserva – Spain, La Rioja, La Rioja Alta, Rioja
    Bricking very dark red violet color; mature, berry, dill, plum, baked berry nose; maturing, soft, tart plum, dill, baked berry palate; simple, ready to drink; medium finish (85% Tempranillo, 10% Graciano and 5% Mazuelo; aged 24 mos. in French and American oak) (88 pts.)
  • 2010 C.V.N.E. (Compañía Vinícola del Norte de España) Rioja Rosado – Spain, La Rioja, La Rioja Alta, Rioja
    Medium pink color; watermelon, charcoal nose; light bodied, tart cherry, floral, tart strawberry palate; with near medium acidity; medium finish 89+ points (89 pts.)
  • 2010 C.V.N.E. (Compañía Vinícola del Norte de España) Rioja Monopole Blanco – Spain, La Rioja, La Rioja Alta, Rioja
    Tart peach nose; light-medium bodied, peach, ripe citrus palate; short-medium finish (86 pts.)
  • 2007 C.V.N.E. (Compañía Vinícola del Norte de España) Rioja Crianza – Spain, La Rioja, La Rioja Alta, Rioja
    Smoke, tart red fruit nose; light bodied, tart red fruit, raspberry, currant palate; medium finish (87 pts.)
  • 2007 C.V.N.E. (Compañía Vinícola del Norte de España) Rioja Viña Real Plata Crianza – Spain, La Rioja, La Rioja Alta, Rioja
    Charcoal, red currant nose; light-medium bodied, tart red currant, charcoal palate; medium finish (87 pts.)
  • 2006 C.V.N.E. (Compañía Vinícola del Norte de España) Rioja Reserva – Spain, La Rioja, La Rioja Alta, Rioja
    Tart black fruit, charcoal nose; soft, tart black fruit, charcoal palate; medium-plus finish 87+ points (87 pts.)

Dinastía Vivanco

  • 2007 Dinastía Vivanco Rioja Crianza – Spain, La Rioja, La Rioja Alavesa, Rioja
    Dark ruby red color; rich, berry, plum, vanilla, cherry nose; tight, light-medium bodied, tart cherry, tart berry palate with caramel edge; needs 2-plus years and should go for 15-plus years; medium-plus finish (aged 16 mos. in mixed French and American oak barrels, 2-5 years old) (90 pts.)
  • 2010 Dinastía Vivanco Rioja Tempranillo-Garnacha Vivanco Rosado – Spain, La Rioja, Rioja
    Medium pink color; strawberry nose; strawberry, red plum palate; medium finish (86 pts.)
  • 2005 Dinastía Vivanco Rioja Reserva – Spain, La Rioja, La Rioja Alavesa, Rioja
    Nice black fruit, berry nose; black fruit, berry palate; medium finish (90% Tempranillo, 10% Graciano) (88 pts.)
  • 2007 Dinastía Vivanco Rioja Colección Vivanco 4 varietales – Spain, La Rioja, La Rioja Alta, Rioja
    Berry, plum, oak nose; berry, plum, oak palate; medium-plus finish (88 pts.)
  • 2006 Dinastía Vivanco Rioja Colección Vivanco Parcelas de Graciano – Spain, La Rioja, Rioja
    Opaque purple red violet color; deep berry, plum, baked plum nose; deep berry, plum, baked plum palate; medium-plus finish (89 pts.)

EgoMei

5/2/2011 Rioja Tasting SF

  • 2007 EgoMei Rioja – Spain, La Rioja, Rioja
    Black fruit, espresso nose; tart black fruit, espresso palate; medium-plus finish (85% Tempranillo, 15% Graciano) (91 pts.)
  • 2005 EgoMei Rioja Alma – Spain, La Rioja, Rioja
    Intense black fruit, berry nose; intense black fruit, berry, caramel palate; medium-plus finish (75% Tempranillo, 25% Graciano) (92 pts.)

El Coto

  • 2010 Bodegas El Coto Rioja – Spain, La Rioja, Rioja
    Ripe lemon nose; soft, ripe lemon palate with near medium acidity; short-medium finish (84 pts.)
  • 2010 Bodegas El Coto Rioja Rosado – Spain, La Rioja, Rioja
    Carbonic maceration, herbal, red fruit nose; carbonic maceration, light-medium bodied, red fruit, currant palate; medium finish (50/50 Garnacha and Tempranillo) (86 pts.)
  • 2007 Bodegas El Coto Rioja Crianza – Spain, La Rioja, Rioja
    Tart red plum, oak nose; tart red plum, oak palate; short-medium finish (85 pts.)
  • 2004 Bodegas El Coto Rioja Coto de Imaz Reserva – Spain, La Rioja, Rioja
    Baked berry, oak, dill nose; tasty, soft, red plum berry palate; medium finish (87 pts.)

Faustino

  • 2009 Faustino Rioja Faustino VII – Spain, La Rioja, Rioja
    Light medium orange pink color; soke, strawberry, ripe orange melon, orange cream nose; tasty, light bodied, creamy textured, tart strawberry, tart orange cream palate with a sense of smoke and refreshing acidity; medium finish (80% Tempranillo, 20% Garnacha) (91 pts.)
  • 2009 Faustino Rioja Faustino VII – Spain, La Rioja, Rioja
    Floral, tart peach, ripe lemon nose; tasty, floral, peach palate with medium-minus acidity; medium finish 86+ points (86 pts.)
  • 1998 Faustino Rioja Gran Reserva I – Spain, La Rioja, Rioja
    Aromatic, charcoal, dried berry nose; tight, tart berry, dried berry palate; needs 2 years; medium-plus finish 90+ points (90% Tempranillo, 6% Graciano, 4% Mazuelo) (90 pts.)
  • 2005 Faustino Rioja Reserva V – Spain, La Rioja, Rioja
    Maturing plum, black fruit nose; soft, light-medium bodied, dill, herb, black fruit palate; medium finish 87+points (90% Tempranillo, 10% Mazuelo) (87 pts.)
  • 2008 Faustino Rioja Faustino VII Reserva – Spain, La Rioja, Rioja
    Tart berry nose; tasty, light-medium bodied, tart berry, tart blackberry palate; medium finish (50/50 Tempranillo and Garnacha) (88 pts.)
  • 2005 Faustino Rivero Ulecia Rioja Reserva – Spain, La Rioja, Rioja
    Black fruit, tar, berry nose; black fruit, tar, berry palate; medium-plus finish (90 pts.)
  • 2006 Faustino de Crianza Rioja – Spain, La Rioja, Rioja
    Currant nose; tart currant palate with a sense of carbonic maceration; medium finish (87 pts.)

Federico Paternina

  • 2001 Federico Paternina Rioja Conde de los Andes Gran Reserva – Spain, La Rioja, Rioja
    Mature, plum, berry, oak nose; mature, plum, berry, oak, dill palate; medium-plus finish (89 pts.)
  • 2010 Federico Paternina Rioja Banda Dorada – Spain, La Rioja, Rioja
    Tart lime, citrus nose; tart lime, citrus palate; short-medium finish (86 pts.)
  • 2007 Federico Paternina Rioja Paternina Banda Azul Crianza – Spain, La Rioja, Rioja
    Nice berry, black plum nose; light-medium bodied, plum, berry palate; medium finish 87+ points (75% Tempranillo, 25% Garnacha; 12 mos. in American oak) (87 pts.)
  • 2004 Federico Paternina Rioja Banda Roja Reserva – Spain, La Rioja, Rioja
    Mature plum, dill nose; soft, plum, tart berry palate; medium finish (89 pts.)
  • 2009 Federico Paternina Rioja Monte Haro Cosecha – Spain, La Rioja, Rioja
    Berry, smoke nose; tasty, tart berry, plum, baked berry palate; medium finish 87+ points (87 pts.)

Franco-Españolas

  • 2010 Bodegas Franco-Españolas Rioja Diamante – Spain, La Rioja, Rioja
    Tart citrus nose; ripe citrus palate with a sense of residual sugar; medium finish (50/50 Viura and Malvasia) (84 pts.)
  • 2010 Bodegas Franco-Españolas Rioja Royal White – Spain, La Rioja, Rioja
    Tart lemon, citrus nose; tart citrus, grapefruit palate; medium finish 87+ points (87 pts.)
  • 2009 Bodegas Franco-Españolas Rioja Royal Red – Spain, La Rioja, Rioja
    Charcoal, tart red fruit nose; tart red fruit, currant palate; medium finish (80% Tempranillo, 20% Grenache; aged 6 mos.) (86 pts.)
  • 2007 Bodegas Franco-Españolas Rioja Bordón Crianza – Spain, La Rioja, Rioja
    Red berry, oak nose; tasty, tart red berry, oak palate; medium finish (80% Tempranillo, 20% Garnacha; 12 mos. in oak) (87 pts.)
  • 2004 Bodegas Franco-Españolas Rioja Bordón Reserva – Spain, La Rioja, Rioja
    Berry, oak nose; berry, oak, red fruit palate; medium-plus finish (80% Tempranillo, 15% Garnacha, 5% Mazuelo; 24 mos. in oak, 1st & 2nd yr old barrels) (88 pts.)
  • 2001 Bodegas Franco-Españolas Rioja Bordón Gran Reserva – Spain, La Rioja, Rioja
    Berry, red fruit, oak nose; berry, red fruit, oak palate; medium-plus finish 88+ points (80% Tempranillo, 10% Garnacha, 5% Mazuelo, 5% Graciano; 3 years in oak and bottle) (88 pts.)

Hermanos Peciña

  • 2009 Bodegas Hermanos Peciña Rioja Señorío de P. Peciña Cosecha – Spain, La Rioja, Rioja
    Oak, black fruit nose; oak, black fruit palate; medium finish (86 pts.)
  • 2003 Bodegas Hermanos Peciña Rioja Señorío de P. Peciña Crianza – Spain, La Rioja, Rioja
    Nice, maturing, berry, dill, black fruit nose; maturing, berry, dill, black fruit palate; medium finish 87+ points (87 pts.)
  • 2001 Bodegas Hermanos Peciña Rioja Señorío de P. Peciña Reserva – Spain, La Rioja, Rioja
    Fig, caramel nose; mature, tart plum, caramel palate; medium finish (88 pts.)

Herminia

5/2/2011 Rioja Tasting SF

  • 2010 Viña Herminia Rioja – Spain, La Rioja, Rioja
    Very dark ruby color; carbonic maceration, red currant, charcoal, herbs nose; tart currant, tart red fruit, carbonic maceration palate with medium acidity; for drinking now and up to 2-3 years; medium finish (100% Tempranillo, partial carbonic maceration, aged 3 mos. in American oak barrels) (87 pts.)
  • 2010 Viña Herminia Rioja Rosado – Spain, La Rioja, Rioja
    Light medium orange pink color; tart currant nose; tasty, tart currant palate; medium finish (88 pts.)
  • 2005 Viña Herminia Rioja Crianza – Spain, La Rioja, Rioja
    Salty, tart berry nose; tart berry, plum palate; medium-plus finish (89 pts.)
  • 2004 Viña Herminia Rioja Reserva – Spain, La Rioja, Rioja
    Tart berry, black fruit nose; rich, tart berry, black fruit palate; medium-plus finish 90+ points (90 pts.)
  • 2006 Viña Herminia Rioja Excelsus – Spain, La Rioja, Rioja
    Dried berry, black fruit nose; tasty, dried berry, black fruit palate; medium-plus finish 91+ points (91 pts.)

Ijalba

  • 2008 Viña Ijalba Rioja Tinto Livor – Spain, La Rioja, La Rioja Alta, Rioja
    Reduction, tart red fruit, red currant nose; ripe currant, berry, charcoal palate; medium finish (85 pts.)
  • 2007 Viña Ijalba Graciano Rioja – Spain, La Rioja, La Rioja Alta, Rioja
    Medium ruby color; charcoal, tart berry, herb nose; tight berry, currant palate; medium-plus finish 87+ points (1 year in French oak) (87 pts.)

Jorge Ordoñez

  • 2009 Jorge Ordoñez Rioja Solnia – Spain, La Rioja, Rioja
    Berry, plum nose; ripe plum, berry, simple palate; medium finish 85+ points (50% Tempranillo, 50% Graciano; made for US market) (85 pts.)

Labastida

  • 2006 Bodegas y Viñedos Labastida Rioja Castillo Labastida Crianza – Spain, La Rioja, La Rioja Alavesa, Rioja
    Black fruit, berry nose; tasty, black fruit, berry palate; medium finish (88 pts.)
  • 2008 Bodegas y Viñedos Labastida Rioja Madurado – Spain, La Rioja, Rioja
    Black fruit, tar nose; black fruit, tar palate; short-medium finish (86 pts.)
  • 2005 Bodegas y Viñedos Labastida Rioja Castillo Labastida Reserva – Spain, La Rioja, Rioja
    Tart plum nose; tasty, tart plum, red berry palate; medium-plus finish 88+ points (88 pts.)
  • 2004 Bodegas y Viñedos Labastida Rioja Manuel Quintano – Spain, La Rioja, Rioja
    Black fruit, vanilla nose; soft, black fruit, vanilla palate; medium-plus finish 88+ points (70% Tempranillo, 30% Garnacha) (88 pts.)

LAN

  • 2006 Bodegas LAN Rioja Crianza – Spain, La Rioja, Rioja
    Smoky, tart berry nose; light-medium bodied, smoky, tart black fruit palate; needs 1 year; medium finish (88 pts.)
  • 2003 Bodegas LAN Rioja Reserva – Spain, La Rioja, Rioja
    Light plum nose; soft, light-medium bodied, plum palate with oak edges; medium finish (90% Tempranillo, 10% Mazuelo; 12 mos. in French and American oak; 24 mos. aged in bottle) (87 pts.)
  • 2003 Bodegas LAN Rioja Gran Reserva – Spain, La Rioja, Rioja
    Rather intense, red plum, black fruit char nose; tart black fruit, char, dill, herb palate; medium finish 87+ points (80% Tempranillo, 10% Mazuelo, 10% Garnacha; 24 mos. in French and American oak; 36 mos. in bottle) (87 pts.)
  • 2005 Bodegas LAN Rioja Reserva Viña Lanciano – Spain, La Rioja, Rioja
    Tar, tart black fruit, charcoal nose; tasty, tart black fruit, tar, berry palate; medium-plus finish 88+ points (80% Tempranillo, 20% Mazuelo; 6 mos. in Russian oak, 12 mos. in French oak, 18 mos. in bottle) (88 pts.)
  • 2005 Bodegas LAN Rioja Edición Limitada – Spain, La Rioja, Rioja
    Very dark purple red violet color; tart black fruit, bell pepper nose; tart black fruit, bell pepper palate with firm tannins; needs 1-2 years; medium-plus finish (85% Tempranillo, 10% Mazuelo, 5% Graciano; 5 mos. in new French oak, 4 mos. in new Russian oak) (89 pts.)
  • 2004 Bodegas LAN Rioja Reserva Culmen – Spain, La Rioja, La Rioja Alta, Rioja
    Opaque dark red violet color; refined black fruit, tar, vanilla nose; tight, plush mouthfeel, refined, tart plum black fruit palate; needs 2-plus years; medium-plus finish 90+ points (85% Tempranillo; 15% Graciano) (90 pts.)

Landaluces

  • 2006 Bodegas Landaluces Rioja Crianza – Spain, La Rioja, Rioja
    Oak, red plum nose; light-medium bodied, red plum, raspberry palate; medium finish (12 mos. in oak) (86 pts.)
  • 2005 Bodegas Landaluces Rioja Capricho de Landaluce – Spain, La Rioja, Rioja
    Ripe red plum, black fruit nose; plush, salty plum, red plum, black fruit palate; medium finish (from 80 year old Tempranillo vines) (89 pts.)

La Rioja Alta

  • 1997 La Rioja Alta Rioja Gran Reserva 904 – Spain, La Rioja, Rioja
    Smoke, mature, black fruit, charcoal nose; mature, black fruit, roast lamb, dill palate; medium-plus finish (90 pts.)
  • 2001 La Rioja Alta Rioja Viña Ardanza Reserva Especial – Spain, La Rioja, La Rioja Alta, Rioja
    Mature, plum, dill, oak nose; mature, light-medium bodied, plum, black fruit palate; medium-plus finish (89 pts.)
  • 2003 La Rioja Alta Rioja Viña Alberdi Reserva – Spain, La Rioja, Rioja
    Mature, smoky, black fruit nose; tasty, light-medium bodied, mature, black fruit, smoke palate; medium finish (88 pts.)
  • 2004 La Rioja Alta Rioja Viña Arana Reserva – Spain, La Rioja, Rioja
    Charcoal, tart black fruit nose; light-medium bodied, tart black fruit, charcoal, plum palate; medium-plus finish 88+ points (88 pts.)

López de Heredia

5/2/2011 Rioja Tasting SF

  • 2001 R. López de Heredia Rioja Blanco Crianza Viña Gravonia – Spain, La Rioja, La Rioja Alta, Rioja
    Light lemon yellow color with 15 millimeter clear meniscus; big, bracing, VA, lemon oil, kumquat nose; tasty, silky textured, lemon oil, ripe kumquat, tart peach, mineral palate; long finish 93+ points (93 pts.)
  • 2005 R. López de Heredia Rioja Crianza Viña Cubillo – Spain, La Rioja, La Rioja Alta, Rioja
    Medium red color; nice red berry, spice nose; tart berry, red berry, raspberry palate; medium-plus finish 90+ points (3 years in barrel) (90 pts.)
  • 2002 R. López de Heredia Rioja Reserva Viña Bosconia – Spain, La Rioja, La Rioja Alta, Rioja
    Bricking medium red color with pale meniscus; nice, mature, focused, red berry, oak spice nose; tasty, red berry, oak spice palate; medium-plus finish 91+ points (5 years in barrel) (91 pts.)
  • <1991 R. López de Heredia Rioja Gran Reserva Viña Tondonia – Spain, La Rioja, La Rioja Alta, Rioja
    Bricked light medium red color with pale meniscus; lovely, mature, smoke, mushroom nose; tasty, mature, mushroom, smoke, tart currant, tart red fruit palate; medium-plus finish 93+ points (93 pts.)

Luberri

  • 2007 Bodegas Luberri Rioja Biga Crianza – Spain, La Rioja, La Rioja Alavesa, Rioja
    Light berry, red plum nose; tart red plum, berry palate; medium finish (87 pts.)
  • 2008 Bodegas Luberri Rioja Seis de Luberri – Spain, La Rioja, Rioja
    Carbonic maceration, red berry nose; light-medium bodied, red berry, red fruit palate; medium finish 87+ points (87 pts.)

Luis Cañas

  • 2006 Bodegas Luis Cañas Rioja Crianza – Spain, La Rioja, La Rioja Alavesa, Rioja
    Red plum, red berry nose; soft, red plum, red berry palate; medium finish 86+ points (86 pts.)
  • 2004 Bodegas Luis Cañas Rioja Hiru 3 Racimos – Spain, La Rioja, Rioja
    Berry, plum, caramel nose; berry, plum, caramel palate; medium finish (90 pts.)
  • 2001 Bodegas Luis Cañas Rioja Amarén Reserva – Spain, La Rioja, Rioja
    Berry, black fruit nose; plush, berry, black fruit palate; medium finish (90 pts.)
  • <2005 Bodegas Luis Cañas Rioja Amaren Graciano – Spain, La Rioja, Rioja
    Chocolate, berry nose; berry, black fruit, chocolate palate; medium-plus finish (90 pts.)
  • 2003 Bodegas Luis Cañas Rioja Reserva – Spain, La Rioja, Rioja
    Mature, black fruit, berry nose; tasty, mature, berry, black fruit palate; medium finish 88+ points (95% Tempranillo, 5% Graciano) (88 pts.)
  • 2001 Bodegas Luis Cañas Rioja Reserva Selección de Familia – Spain, La Rioja, Rioja
    Berry, plum nose; plush, berry, plum palate; medium-plus finish 90+ points (90 pts.)

Marqéus de Carrión

  • 2007 Marqéus de Carrión Tempranillo Rioja Crianza Antaño – Spain, La Rioja, Rioja
    Black fruit, coffee nose; soft, lush, black fruit, coffee palate; medium finish (12 mos. in American oak) (87 pts.)
  • 2005 Marqéus de Carrión Rioja Antaño Reserva – Spain, La Rioja, Rioja
    Deep black fruit, espresso nose; tasty, soft, black fruit, espresso palate; medium-plus finish (88 pts.)

Marqués de Cáceres

  • 2008 Marqués de Cáceres Rioja “MC” – Spain, La Rioja, Rioja
    Opaque purple red violet color; tart currant, tart red berry, light herbal nose; plush textured, tasty, poised, plum, tart berry, pomegranate, vanilla palate; ready to drink in 1 year and should age for 8-10 years; medium-plus finish (15 mos. in 100% new French oak) (91 pts.)
  • 2010 Marqués de Cáceres Rioja Blanco – Spain, La Rioja, La Rioja Alta, Rioja
    Tart peach, citrus nose; light, tart citrus palate; short-medium finish (86 pts.)
  • 2010 Marqués de Cáceres Rioja Rosado – Spain, La Rioja, La Rioja Alta, Rioja
    Light medium orange pink color; tart strawberry, tart orange nose; tasty, light-medium bodied, tart strawberry, charcoal palate; medium finish (85% Tempranillo, 15% Garnacha) (87 pts.)
  • 2004 Marqués de Cáceres Rioja Reserva – Spain, La Rioja, Rioja
    Reduction, tart black fruit, herbal nose; tart black fruit, herbal palate; needs 1-2 years; medium finish (85% Tempranillo, 15% Garnacha and Graciano) (88 pts.)
  • 2001 Marqués de Cáceres Rioja Gran Reserva – Spain, La Rioja, Rioja
    Light herbal, tart black fruit nose; light-medium bodied, tart black fruit, herbal palate; needs 2-plus years; medium-plus finish 88+ points (85% Tempranillo, 15% Garnacha and Graciano) (88 pts.)
  • 2004 Marqués de Cáceres Rioja Gaudium Gran Vino – Spain, La Rioja, Rioja
    Dark plum red color; aromatic, dried berry, plum, dried cherry nose; silky textured, tart red plum, dried berry palate; medium-plus finish (85% Tempranillo, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Graciano) (89 pts.)
  • 2007 Marqués de Cáceres Rioja Crianza – Spain, La Rioja, La Rioja Alta, Rioja
    Tart plum, fig nose; light-medium bodied, tart plum, red fruit palate; medium finish (87 pts.)
  • 2005 Marqués de Cáceres Rioja Reserva – Spain, La Rioja, Rioja
    Tart plum, black fruit nose; light-medium bodied, tart plum, black fruit, currant palate; medium finish (88 pts.)

Marqués de la Concordia

  • 2009 Marqués de la Concordia Rioja – Spain, La Rioja, Rioja
    Black fruit, berry nose; tasty, black fruit, berry palate; medium finish (87 pts.)
  • 2007 Marqués de la Concordia Rioja Crianza – Spain, La Rioja, Rioja
    Berry, plum, fig nose; ripe berry, plum palate; medium finish 87+ points (87 pts.)
  • 2006 Marqués de la Concordia Rioja Reserva – Spain, La Rioja, Rioja
    Tart berry, charcoal nose; tart berry, charcoal palate; medium-plus finish (88 pts.)

Marqués de Murrieta

5/2/2011 Rioja Tasting SF

  • 2005 Marqués de Murrieta Rioja Reserva – Spain, La Rioja, La Rioja Alavesa, Rioja
    Very dark ruby color; vanilla, berry, dill, very “typico” nose; tight, plush textured, tart cherry, red berry, vanilla, coconut palate; needs 2 years but will go for 5-8 years; medium-plus finish (84% Tempranillo, 13% Graciano, 3% Mazuelo; 22 mos. in American oak, including 8 mos. in new oak) (90 pts.)
  • 2005 Marqués de Murrieta Rioja Capellanía Reserva – Spain, La Rioja, La Rioja Alavesa, Rioja
    Oxidative, light sherry, light nutty nose; tasty, oxidative, like a very light fino sherry, nutty palate; medium finish (89 pts.)
  • 2001 Marqués de Murrieta Rioja Castillo Ygay Gran Reserva Especial – Spain, La Rioja, La Rioja Alavesa, Rioja
    Medium red color with pale meniscus; lovely, tart currant, red berry nose; tasty, tart berry, strawberry, red plum palate with firm, sweet tannins; drinkable now, and will go for decades; medium-plus finish (93% Tempranillo, 7% Mazuelo) (92 pts.)

Marqués de Riscal

  • 2009 Marqués de Riscal Rioja Pròximo – Spain, La Rioja, La Rioja Alavesa, Rioja
    Very dark ruby color; reduction, herbal, rather stinky nose; smooth textured, tart red plum, earthy, currant, reduction, herbs palate; needs 1 year; medium finish (100% Tempranillo) (86 pts.)
  • 2009 Marqués de Riscal Rioja Rosado – Spain, La Rioja, La Rioja Alavesa, Rioja
    Light medium orange pink color; tart cherry, oak nose; smooth textured, tart strawberry, tart cherry palate; medium finish (89 pts.)
  • 2005 Marqués de Riscal Rioja Reserva – Spain, La Rioja, La Rioja Alavesa, Rioja
    Light cherry, red berry, vanilla nose; light-medium bodied, tasty, cherry, red berry, vanilla palate; medium finish (90 pts.)

Martinez Bujanda

  • 2005 Martinez Bujanda Rioja Finca Valpiedra Reserva – Spain, La Rioja, La Rioja Alta, Rioja
    Nice black fruit, berry nose; tasty, black fruit, berry, blackberry palate; medium finish (90 pts.)
  • 2006 Martinez Bujanda Rioja Finca Valpiedra Cantos de Valpiedra – Spain, La Rioja, La Rioja Alta, Rioja
    Berry, plum nose; berry, plum, tar palate; medium finish (88 pts.)
  • 2009 Martinez Bujanda Rioja Madurado – Spain, La Rioja, La Rioja Alta, Rioja
    Tart plum, oak nose; tart plum oak palate; medium finish 85+ points (85 pts.)
  • 2008 Martinez Bujanda Rioja Crianza – Spain, La Rioja, La Rioja Alta, Rioja
    Oak, black fruit nose; oak, black fruit palate; medium finish 85+ points (12 mos. in American oak) (85 pts.)
  • 2006 Martinez Bujanda Rioja Reserva – Spain, La Rioja, Rioja
    Ripe black fruit, lum nose; ripe black fruit, plum palate; medium-plus finish (88 pts.)

Montecillo

  • 2007 Bodegas Montecillo Rioja Crianza – Spain, La Rioja, Rioja
    Red berry, vanilla nose; soft, berry, baked berry, vanilla palate; medium finish (87 pts.)
  • 1985 Bodegas Montecillo Rioja Gran Reserva – Spain, La Rioja, Rioja
    Mature, mushroom, herb nose; mature, mushroom, herb palate; medium-plus finish (89 pts.)

Muga

  • 2010 Bodegas Muga Rioja Blanco – Spain, La Rioja, Rioja
    Ripe lemon, almond nose; tasty, oily textured, ripe lemon, stony palate; medium finish 88+ points (90% Viura, 10% Malvasia) (88 pts.)
  • 2010 Bodegas Muga Rioja Rosado – Spain, La Rioja, La Rioja Alta, Rioja
    Light pink color; tart strawberry nose; tasty, tart strawberry, tart currant palate; medium finish (60% Garnacha, 30% Viura, 10% Tempranillo) (89 pts.)
  • 2007 Bodegas Muga Rioja Reserva – Spain, La Rioja, La Rioja Alta, Rioja
    Smoky, tart red fruit, plum nose; tight, tart plum, smoke palate; medium finish (70% Tempranillo, 20% Garnacha, 10% Mazuelo and Graciano) (90 pts.)
  • 2004 Bodegas Muga Rioja Gran Reserva Prado Enea – Spain, La Rioja, Rioja
    Very dark ruby color; tart, plum, smoke nose; tart berry, tart plum, smoke palate with grip; medium-plus finish (80% Tempranillo, 20% Garnacha, Mazuelo and Graciano) (91 pts.)

Muriel

  • 2008 Bodegas Muriel Rioja Selección – Spain, La Rioja, Rioja
    Carbonic maceration, tart plum nose; plush, tart black fruit, vanilla palate; medium finish (stainless steel tanks) (87 pts.)
  • 2007 Bodegas Muriel Rioja JME oak aged – Spain, La Rioja, La Rioja Alavesa, Rioja
    Mature, berry, tobacco nose; plush, berry, tobacco palate; medium-plus finish (88 pts.)
  • 2005 Bodegas Muriel Rioja Muriel Reserva – Spain, La Rioja, Rioja
    Berry, plum, black fruit nose; berry, plum, black fruit palate; medium finish 88+ points (88 pts.)
  • 2005 Bodegas Muriel Rioja Crianza – Spain, La Rioja, Rioja
    Ripe berry, vanilla nose; ripe berry, vanilla palate; medium finish (87 pts.)

Ontañón

5/2/2011 Rioja Tasting SF

  • 2007 Ontañón Rioja Crianza – Spain, La Rioja, Rioja
    Berry, black fruit nose; rich berry, black fruit palate; medium-plus finish 88+ points (90% Tempranillo, 10% Garnacha; 60/40 American and French oak) (88 pts.)
  • 2004 Ontañón Rioja Reserva – Spain, La Rioja, Rioja
    Deep berry, black fruit nose; deep berry, black fruit palate; medium-plus finish (95% Tempranillo, 5% Graciano) (89 pts.)

Ostatu

  • 2005 Bodegas Ostatu Rioja Reserva – Spain, La Rioja, Rioja
    Maturing, red plum, black fruit, subtle spice nose; plush, medium bodied, berry, plum palate; medium finish (89 pts.)

Pagos de Valdeorca

  • 2004 Pagos de Valdeorca Rioja – Spain, La Rioja, Rioja
    Black fruit, espresso nose; rich, black fruit, espresso palate; medium-plus finish 88+ points (from 100-year-old, pre-phylloxera vines; 20 mos. in new French oak) (88 pts.)

Palacio

  • 2006 Bodegas Palacio Rioja Glorioso Crianza – Spain, La Rioja, Rioja
    Reduction, tart black fruit nose; reduction, tart black fruit palate; short-medium finish (82 pts.)
  • 2007 Bodegas Palacio Rioja Cosme Palacio Vendimia Seleccionada – Spain, La Rioja, Rioja
    Tart black fruit nose; soft, tart black fruit, plum palate; medium finish (85 pts.)
  • 2004 Bodegas Palacio Rioja Cosme Palacio y Hermanos Reserva – Spain, La Rioja, Rioja
    Tart black fruit, reduction nose; coffee, tart black fruit palate; medium finish (86 pts.)
  • 2007 Bodegas Palacio Rioja Cosme Palacio 1894 – Spain, La Rioja, Rioja
    Pear, peach nose; soft pear, peach, vanilla palate; medium-plus finish (Viura, Malvasia blend) (89 pts.)

Palacios Remondo

  • 2008 Palacios Remondo Rioja Plácet Valtomelloso – Spain, La Rioja, Rioja
    Peach, oak nose; ripe peach, oak palate; short-medium finish (85 pts.)
  • 2010 Palacios Remondo Rioja La Vendimia – Spain, La Rioja, Rioja
    Fresh berry, carbonic maceration, raspberry nose; soft, light, fruity, raspberry palate; medium finish (whole cluster; 80% French and 20% American oak; I love the label art) (86 pts.)
  • 2007 Palacios Remondo Rioja La Montesa Crianza – Spain, La Rioja, Rioja
    Fresh fruit, berry, plum, carbonic maceration nose; berry, black cherry palate; medium-plus finish 87+ points (80% French, 15% American oak) (87 pts.)
  • 2007 Palacios Remondo Rioja Propiedad H. Remondo – Spain, La Rioja, Rioja
    Rich, berry, black fruit nose with lift; tasty, medium-bodied, berry, black cherry palate; medium-plus finish 88+ points (88 pts.)

Ramirez

  • 2007 Bodegas Ramirez Rioja Selección Crianza Ramirez de la Piscina – Spain, La Rioja, Rioja
    Tart currant nose; tight, tart currant, tart plum palate; medium finish (86 pts.)
  • 2005 Bodegas Ramirez Rioja Reserva Ramirez de la Piscina – Spain, La Rioja, Rioja
    Tart plum, berry nose; tart plum, berry palate; medium finish (88 pts.)
  • 2001 Bodegas Ramirez Rioja Gran Reserva Ramirez de la Piscina – Spain, La Rioja, Rioja
    Berry, tart plum nose; tart red plum, dill, red berry palate; medium finish 88+ points (88 pts.)

Remelluri

  • 2007 La Granja Nuestra Señora de Remelluri Rioja – Spain, La Rioja, La Rioja Alavesa, Rioja
    Deep red berry, vanilla nose; tasty, poised, red berry, vanilla, ripe currant palate; medium-plus finish (90% Tempranillo, 5% Garnacha, 5% Graciano; 16 mos. in French & American 6 year old oak) (90 pts.)

Remírez de Ganuza

  • 2005 Fernando Remírez de Ganuza Rioja Fincas de Ganuza, Reserva – Spain, La Rioja, La Rioja Alavesa, Rioja
    Berry oak nose; tight, traditionally styled, berry, dill, oak palate; needs 1-2 years; medium finish (80% Tempranillo, 10% Graciano, 10% Garnacha) (87 pts.)
  • 2005 Fernando Remírez de Ganuza Rioja Reserva – Spain, La Rioja, La Rioja Alavesa, Rioja
    Ripe, plush, berry, black fruit, vanilla nose; plush, berry, black fruit, vanilla palate; medium-plus finish (85% Tempranillo, 10% Graciano, 3% Garnacha, 2% other varietals) (89 pts.)

Riojanas

  • 1998 Bodegas Riojanas Rioja Monte Real Gran Reserva – Spain, La Rioja, La Rioja Alta, Rioja
    Oak, black fruit nose; soft, tart black fruit, oak palate; medium finish 86+ points (80% Tempranillo, 15% Mazuelo, 5% Garnacha) (86 pts.)
  • 2001 Bodegas Riojanas Rioja Monte Real Gran Reserva – Spain, La Rioja, La Rioja Alta, Rioja
    Black fruit, tar nose; light-medium bodied, tart black fruit, oak palate; medium finish 86+ points (80% Tempranillo, 15% Mazuelo, 5% Graciano) (86 pts.)
  • 2008 Bodegas Riojanas Rioja Puerta Vieja Crianza – Spain, La Rioja, Rioja
    Black fruit nose; soft, tart black fruit palate; medium finish (80% Tempranillo, 15% Mazuelo, 5% Garnacha) (85 pts.)
  • 2009 Bodegas Riojanas Rioja Viña Albina Blanco Semi Dulce – Spain, La Rioja, La Rioja Alta, Rioja
    Baked lemon, peach nose; ripe peach baked lemon, oak palate; medium finish (90% Viura, 10% Malvasia; 3.5 residual sugar; stainless steel) (87 pts.)
  • 2004 Bodegas Riojanas Rioja Viña Albina Reserva – Spain, La Rioja, La Rioja Alta, Rioja
    Dill, tart black fruit nose; tart black fruit, dill palate; short-medium finish 85+ points (80% Tempranillo, 15% Mazuelo, 5% Graciano) (85 pts.)
  • 1998 Bodegas Riojanas Rioja Viña Albina Gran Reserva – Spain, La Rioja, La Rioja Alta, Rioja
    Tart black fruit, coffee nose; mature, tart black fruit, coffee palate; medium-plus finish (80% Tempranillo, 15% Mazuelo, 5% Garnacha) (87 pts.)

Santiago Ijalba

  • 2009 Santiago Ijalba Viura Viña Hermosa – Spain, La Rioja, Rioja
    Light citrus nose; citrus, almond palate; medium finish (86 pts.)
  • 2009 Santiago Ijalba Tempranillo Viña Hermosa Rosado – Spain, La Rioja, Rioja
    Medium pink color; strawberry nose; strawberry and red fruit palate; medium finish (86 pts.)
  • 2008 Santiago Ijalba Rioja Viña Hermosa Cosecha – Spain, La Rioja, Rioja
    Oak, herbal nose; oak, herbal palate; medium finish (82 pts.)
  • 2006 Santiago Ijalba Rioja Viña Hermosa Crianza – Spain, La Rioja, Rioja
    Plum, oak nose; plum, oak palate; medium finish (15 mos. in American oak) (86 pts.)
  • 2004 Santiago Ijalba Rioja Viña Hermosa Reserva – Spain, La Rioja, La Rioja Alta, Rioja
    Baked black fruit, dill nose; baked black fruit, dill palate; medium-plus finish (14 mos. in American oak) (83 pts.)

Señorío de San Vicente

  • 2007 Señorío de San Vicente Tempranillo Rioja San Vicente – Spain, La Rioja, Rioja
    Oaky, plum, berry nose; oak, plum palate; medium finish (100% Tempranillo) (84 pts.)

Sierra Cantabria

  • 2009 Bodegas Sierra Cantabria Rioja – Spain, La Rioja, Rioja
    Herbal, red currant nose; light-medium bodied, tart red currant, herbal palate; medium finish 85+ points (85 pts.)
  • 2007 Bodegas Sierra Cantabria Rioja Crianza – Spain, La Rioja, Rioja
    Rich berry, plum nose; medium bodied, red plum, berry palate; medium finish (87 pts.)
  • 2007 Bodegas Sierra Cantabria Rioja Cuvée Especial – Spain, La Rioja, Rioja
    Mature berry, plum, fig nose; medium bodied, plum, berry palate; medium finish (88 pts.)

Solar de Randez

  • 2009 Solar de Randez Rioja – Spain, La Rioja, Rioja
    Carbonic maceration, red fruit nose; red fruit, carbonic maceration palate; medium finish (86 pts.)
  • 2006 Solar de Randez Rioja Crianza – Spain, La Rioja, Rioja
    Reduction, tart black fruit nose; tart black fruit, reduction palate; medium finish (13 mos. in 50/50 French and American oak) (84 pts.)
  • 2001 Solar de Randez Rioja Reserva – Spain, La Rioja, Rioja
    Berry, plum nose; light-medium bodied, berry, plum, dill palate; medium finish (24 mos. in 1 and 2 year old French oak) (86 pts.)

Torre de Oña

  • 2005 Torre de Oña Rioja Reserva – Spain, La Rioja, La Rioja Alta, Rioja
    Tart plum nose showing some carbonic maceration; tart plum, tart currant palate; medium finish (88 pts.)
  • 2008 Torre de Oña Rioja Crianza – Spain, La Rioja, La Rioja Alta, Rioja
    Plum, tart berry nose; light-medium bodied, plum, tart berry palate; medium-plus finish (89 pts.)

Valdemar (Martinez Bujanda)

5/2/2011 Rioja Tasting SF

  • 2010 Bodegas Valdemar (Martinez Bujanda) Tempranillo Blanco Inspiración – Spain, La Rioja, La Rioja Alta, Rioja
    Light lemon yellow color; intriguing peach, oily, green fruit nose; tasty, tart peach, quince, mineral, citrus palate with medium acidity; appealing, like a cross between Pinot Gris and a white Bordeaux, and should be very ageworthy; medium-plus finish (a green-skinned mutation of Tempranillo discovered by a grower in Rioja Baja in 1988; aged 12 mos. on lees in 100% French oak barrels) (92 pts.)
  • 2004 Bodegas Valdemar (Martinez Bujanda) Rioja Conde de Valdemar Reserva – Spain, La Rioja, La Rioja Alta, Rioja
    Black fruit, fig nose; nice, tart black fruit, berry palate; medium-plus finish (85% Tempranillo, 15% Mazuelo; 18 mos. in French and American oak) (91 pts.)
  • 2006 Bodegas Valdemar (Martinez Bujanda) Rioja Inspiración – Spain, La Rioja, La Rioja Alta, Rioja
    Tar, tart black fruit, charcoal nose; tar, tart black fruit, charcoal, coffee palate; medium-plus finish (90% Tempranillo, 10% Graciano; 9 mos. in new American oak) (90 pts.)
  • 2004 Bodegas Valdemar (Martinez Bujanda) Rioja Inspiración Edición Limitada – Spain, La Rioja, La Rioja Alta, Rioja
    Rich, plum, cedar, tart cassis nose; tight, tart cassis, plum, cedar palate; needs 2-plus years; medium-plus finish (70% Tempranillo, 15% Graciano, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon) (91 pts.)

Valenciso

  • 2005 Compañía Bodeguera Valenciso Rioja Reserva – Spain, La Rioja, Rioja
    Plum, berry, aromatic nose; tart plum, tart currant palate; medium finish (87 pts.)

Vaza

  • 2008 Vaza Rioja Cosecha – Spain, La Rioja, Rioja
    Carbonic maceration, red currant nose; carbonic maceration, red currant palate; medium finish (86 pts.)
  • 2007 Vaza Rioja Crianza – Spain, La Rioja, Rioja
    Black fruit, oak nose; black fruit, oak palate; medium finish (14 mos. in French and American oak) (87 pts.)

Viñedos de Páganos

  • 2007 Viñedos de Páganos Rioja La Nieta – Spain, La Rioja, Rioja
    Very dark purple red violet color; berry, plum nose; tasty, fresh, dense, berry, ripe plum palate; medium-plus finish (92 pts.)
  • 2007 Viñedos de Páganos Rioja El Puntido – Spain, La Rioja, La Rioja Alavesa, Rioja
    Very dark purple red violet color; vanilla, coffee, berry nose; plush, berry, oak, vanilla palate; medium-plus finish (91 pts.)

Ysios

  • 2004 Ysios Rioja Reserva – Spain, La Rioja, Rioja
    Very dark red violet color; berry, charcoal, dark herbs, plum nose; tight, brooding, tart berry, tart plum, charcoal, coffee palate with good structure; needs 1-2 years and should go 10-15 years; medium-plus finish 90+ points (aged 15 mos. in mixed French, Hungarian and American oak, and 22 mos. in bottle) (90 pts.)

Zugober (Belezos)

  • 2010 Bodegas Zugober (Belezos) Rioja Blanco – Spain, La Rioja, La Rioja Alavesa, Rioja
    Citrus, lime nose; light, tart citrus palate; short-medium finish (84 pts.)
  • 2010 Bodegas Zugober (Belezos) Rioja Rosado – Spain, La Rioja, La Rioja Alavesa, Rioja
    Light orange pink color; tart strawberry nose; tart strawberry, pink grapefruit palate; medium finish (88 pts.)
  • 2010 Bodegas Zugober (Belezos) Rioja Crianza – Spain, La Rioja, La Rioja Alavesa, Rioja
    Tart currant nose; tart currant palate; medium finish (95% Tempranillo, 5% Viura) (85 pts.)
  • 2007 Bodegas Zugober (Belezos) Rioja Crianza – Spain, La Rioja, La Rioja Alavesa, Rioja
    Ripe plum, oak nose; soft, light-medium bodied, ripe berry palate; medium finish (95% Tempranillo, 5% Graciano) (86 pts.)
  • 2004 Bodegas Zugober (Belezos) Rioja Reserva – Spain, La Rioja, La Rioja Alavesa, Rioja
    Coffee, black fruit nose; soft, coffee, black fruit palate; medium finish 86+ points (86 pts.)
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2 Responses to 2011 Rioja Grand Tasting: The Food Friendly Beauty of Barrel Aged Tempranillo

  1. Nice notes, but since when is graciano = mourvedre? I’m not 100% certain, but isn’t graciano synonymous with morrastel in France, but not monastrell, which is mourvedre in France. Did the Rioja folks say that graciano is mourvedre?

    • Richard Jennings says:

      You’re absolutely right about Graciano. Thanks very much for the correction. In France they do use the term “Morrastel” for this grape, which is also known as “Tinta Miuda” in Portugal, and “Tintilla de Rota” in Jerez. And in Spain, the name Morrastel is often used as a synonym for “Monastrell” or Mourvedre. And in North Africa the name Morrastel is used for both Graciano and Mourvedre. But Graciano is not Mourvedre.

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