Cuvinte despre vinuri incercate, degustari si evenimente, calatorii si retete
Although it seems that new and exciting wines are available for tasting every day , and I’m never in danger of running out of obscure options (yes, I’m the „me first!” guy you see when an unpronounceable wine is opened), there are some styles I do like to revisit and enjoy over and over again. Particularly when they are wines not so difficult to find, and bringing back nice memories..
The wines from Rioja have always been blends, since in the old days the plots were rarely planted with a single variety -to ensure that at least part of the crop would still be usable in case of unfavorable weather. Blending has ensured the Rioja producers that they will manage to put out a decent wine vintage after vintage, that they would get a fair price for outstanding vintages, the consistency with the regional style, and indeed with the house style.
The traditional Rioja regional style consisted of early harvesting, very short maceration and fermentation followed by long aging periods in 225 l. oak barricas (barrels) prior to blending wines from the three sub zones and bottling. Minimal contact between the must and the grape skins was fundamental.
Nowadays, when one can find easily „traditional” Rioja wines, modern and post-modern interpretations, following the consistency and style of a certain house can prove to be challenging. I believe it is even more important for the consumer (and therefore more challenging) to ensure a consistency across the wine ranges from the same producer, even if they are addressed to different market segments.
I had the exciting opportunity to taste this assumption during the tasting exhibition at #DWCC 2013, in Logrono, heartland of Rioja. At the Bodega Rioja Vega stand, there were available for tasting wines from all the ranges of this producer -with old roots but a modern twist: GG (a youg entry-level wine), Crianza, Reserva, Gran Reserva, Reserva Aniversario, 9 Barricas. Overall, I could describe their style as „approachable traditional”: slightly less tannins and structure, with more fruit and a alcohol, but still rigorously within the traditional boundaries.
Of all, I enjoyed the most the 2008 Rioja Vega Reserva. A blend of 85% Tempranillo, 5% Mazuelo, 10% Graciano, it has has undergone a long maceration and fermentation (including malolactic), followed by a maturation in oak barrels (America, with 5% French), and at least 12 month spent in bottle prior to the market release.
I appreciated it for providing the feeling of maturity of a classic Reserva, very balanced and a little bit of punch. The fruit flavors typical of young Rioja wines are accented with ripe notes, well supported by fresh acidity and a firm tannin structure.
Tasting it back home after a week, Rioja Vega Reserva 2008 has revealed the same balance and personality, with more nuances and subtle folds: toasted aromas, toffee and vanilla in the nose, and a clean and straightforward licorice aftertaste, and a velvety body.
In a world of wine with such and exciting and increasing diversity, it is useful and comforting to have such landmarks of a certain feeling and style.