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April Wine Focus: Rioja and Ribera del Duero

by Robin Garr » Mon Apr 01, 2019 2:08 pm

Hola! Our back to basics approach to Wine Focus takes us to Spain this month, as we zero in on the adjacent wine regions Rioja and Ribera del Duero. Tempranillo is the dominant grape, particularly in Ribera del Duero, but there's room for variation, and we'll hope to explore it. Tell us about your best, and join us in the quest for value. Rioja and Ribera del Duero!
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Re: April Wine Focus: Rioja and Ribera del Duero

by Bob Parsons Alberta » Mon Apr 01, 2019 4:32 pm

Great focus so count me in!
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Re: April Wine Focus: Rioja and Ribera del Duero

by Bob Parsons Alberta » Tue Apr 02, 2019 2:12 pm

In my tasting history over in the Uk and here in Canada, I have a long history with wines from Bodegas Riojanas..Monte Real, Vina Albina. Some up and down years so lets see how current vintages show up .
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Re: April Wine Focus: Rioja and Ribera del Duero

by David M. Bueker » Tue Apr 02, 2019 10:28 pm

Opened the 2006 Lopez de Heredia Reserva Vina Bosconia tonight, and was reminded again what a value the LdH wines are. Such classic, elegant style, and still out the door of the wine shop for about $35. This quality in California will set you back $80.
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Re: April Wine Focus: Rioja and Ribera del Duero

by John S » Wed Apr 03, 2019 9:34 pm

I had this in my recent long post, just this one fits the theme. I wasn't all that impressed with this very modern wine that could have been from anywhere.

2003 Artadi Rioja Pagos Viejos - Spain, La Rioja, La Rioja Alavesa, Rioja (2019-03-15)
Deep ruby with some bricking. A nice nose of plums, cherries, tar, and tobacco. Medium bodied, smooth, rich, concentrated palate of ripe red fruits, including some pomegranate, and some healthy tannins at the back of the palate. Is the fruit starting to dissipate? A nice wine certainly, a modern version of Rioja, but definitely not great QPR. (B+/A-)
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Re: April Wine Focus: Rioja and Ribera del Duero

by Tim York » Thu Apr 04, 2019 2:59 am

One thing I would like to discover from this thread is what features distinguish Rioja from Ribera del Duero taste-wise. Accepting that Vega Sicilia is unique, I would have had a hard job affirming, blind, that some of the, say, 10-15 year Alion which I have enjoyed in the past were not from Rioja in a somewhat modern vein like Contino's. Can anyone here point me towards some clear distinguishing features which I have so far missed?

I still have a few bottles of Rioja Reserva and GR in my cellar and I have seen that some cavistes here propose some good QPR younger Rioja but I haven't noticed any Ribera del Duero. So it looks unlikely that I'll be answering my question myself.
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Re: April Wine Focus: Rioja and Ribera del Duero

by David M. Bueker » Thu Apr 04, 2019 8:30 am

I cannot speak generally, but Rioja in my experience tends to be tempranillo blended with a strictly limited set of other grapes, while a lot of RdD wines are 100% tempranillo, or somewhat more creative blends than allowed in Rioja.

I find it harder to locate moderate/classic wines in RdD than in Rioja.
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Re: April Wine Focus: Rioja and Ribera del Duero

by Bob Parsons Alberta » Thu Apr 04, 2019 8:51 am

Fair supply of RdD but think I have enough for this months Focus. Check out your winneries, some fruit laden wines out there I am not keen on.
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Re: April Wine Focus: Rioja and Ribera del Duero

by Robin Garr » Thu Apr 04, 2019 7:50 pm

David M. Bueker wrote:I find it harder to locate moderate/classic wines in RdD than in Rioja.


I agree. I’m generally more likely to browse Rioja shelves than RdD for this reason.
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Re: April Wine Focus: Rioja and Ribera del Duero

by Tim York » Fri Apr 05, 2019 9:33 am

Looking through my CT archives, which represent almost 5 years drinking, I only find one RdD but it is a good QPR example, bought in the UK not France incidentally.

2011 Condado de Haza Ribera del Duero Crianza - Spain, Castilla y León, Ribera del Duero (1/28/2018)
This is the entry level Ribera del Duero from the stable of Alejandro Fernandez (Pesquera). His wines used to have sort of cult status but seem to have dimmed on radar screens lately. Having read some TNs here commenting on the presence of American oak, I approached this with misgivings and was delighted to find that IMO it was perfectly integrated into the quite full bodied palate with rich, round but lively sweet cherry infused fruit, sprinklings of leather and spice, velvety texture, decent acidity and ripe but firm backbone. Current vintages can be had from Spain for c.€12 + transport and that is superb QPR. Very good.

A deterrent for me when reaching for RdD rather than Rioja is relative unfamiliarity with its wineries. In spite of progress, it is still all too easy with Spanish production to fall on over-oaked, over-alcoholic, internationally styled wine.
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Re: April Wine Focus: Rioja and Ribera del Duero

by Tim York » Thu Apr 11, 2019 1:12 pm

Here is a Rioja opened a few days ago. La Rioja Alta is supposed to be a traditional producer but I fancy that this is more "modern" in its fruit ripeness than what the bodega was doing a couple of decades ago. The estate's top cuvées are GR 890 and GR 904; the former is getting pretty inaccessible, its 2005 vintage being priced by one web seller at €145 :shock: .

2008 La Rioja Alta Rioja Viña Arana Reserva - Spain, La Rioja, La Rioja Alta, Rioja (4/7/2019)
La Rioja Alta is supposed to be a traditional producer, so I was disconcerted by a previous contributor's highlighting delight in its vanilla flavours which IMO should be only a background note in this style. First sniff tended to confirm that with overt vanilla and even a touch of caramel but first sip was much better with those notes well integrated into some vigorous and quite rich sour cherry tinged fruit with a sprinkling of orange and cinnamon. After a mouthful of succulent lamb shanks in a honey dipped sauce, the balance was even better aided by medium/full body, lively non-astringent acidity, suave texture and a seeming dash of port in the firm and quite long finish. The 11th year is quite young for a Reserva so there is probably room for further improvement. Very good.
Posted from CellarTracker

It's worth touching on "traditional" versus "modern" in Rioja. "Traditional" requires ageing in mainly used American oak casks (4 years old average for Viña Arana) and bears the back label designation Joven, Crianza, Reserva, GR according to the length of that ageing. "Modern" has more freedom in production method and many are frankly highly extracted and woody fruit bombs aged in new French or American barrels for generally shorter periods than traditional Rs and GRs. My most memorable Rioja experiences are 30-50 year old wines by the traditional method but I have had some very enjoyable "moderns" like San Vicente and Sierra Cantabria's Amancio, El Bosque and Coleccion Privada. Contino is said to be "modern" but I find their wines quite restrained, elegant and classical in style.

I don't think that the distinction exists so clearly in RdD, once again excepting Vega Sicilia which is a law unto itself. Its emergence as a quality wine region is quite recent and most of the other producers are, I think, "modern".
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Re: April Wine Focus: Rioja and Ribera del Duero

by Bob Parsons Alberta » Thu Apr 11, 2019 3:03 pm

That is a pretty good sum up Tim. I am very wary of some of the Rioja reds I see on the shelf so tend to stick with my regular buys.
Here are a couple of notes from a recent tasting downtown. I have yet to open my recently purchased 100% Graciano..wink wink.

I found the 2015 Emilio Moro Tempranillo from Ribera del Duero to be very drinkable altho some at the tasting thought might need more time? Floral nose with enticing black fruits. Blackberries, cherry on the initial entry, integrated tannins, not too peppery. Noted some acidity which did not overpower the elegance.

Here was a red I was looking froward to...the 2011 Contino Reserva Rioja. Contino gets lots of interest on various wine boards but I have to wonder about this 2011 vintage? Closed nose, some thought too much oak but then for the long haul I guess. Medium smooth tannins here, cherry, cassis leather. Small pour so hard to really delve into. Thoughts from anyone here?
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Re: April Wine Focus: Rioja and Ribera del Duero

by Tim York » Thu Apr 11, 2019 3:58 pm

Bob Parsons Alberta wrote:Here was a red I was looking froward to...the 2011 Contino Reserva Rioja. Contino gets lots of interest on various wine boards but I have to wonder about this 2011 vintage? Closed nose, some thought too much oak but then for the long haul I guess. Medium smooth tannins here, cherry, cassis leather. Small pour so hard to really delve into. Thoughts from anyone here?


Bob, I'm a fan of Contino but I don't have a lot of knowledge about recent Rioja vintages. I note that WA's vintage chart, FWIW, shows 2011 as the weakest vintage in the last ten. In any case 2011 is still pretty young, though excessive presence of oak could perhaps be explained by weakness of other elements.

I have been eyeing some bottles of Contino Reserva 2014 priced c.€25 at our local Intermarché, an improbable place for a wine like that. I have held off stretching for it wondering where I will be in 10 years time :( , which I guess it probably needs.
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Re: April Wine Focus: Rioja and Ribera del Duero

by Robin Garr » Fri Apr 12, 2019 12:34 pm

Viña Alberdi 2011 Rioja Reserva ($17.99)

From the classic producers La Rioja Alta, this 100 percent Tempranillo Rioja is medium-dark ruby, with a clear edge. Fresh and ripe cherries emerge from the glass, framed by earthy oak, a whiff of black coffee, and a mineral scent of red clay. Bright acidity bursts on the palate with cherries and red cherry-berry fruit, adding a soft buzz of tannins as red berries linger in a very long finish. The label claims 13.5 percent alcohol. U.S. importer: Vanguard Wines LLC, Columbus, Ohio. (April 11, 2019)

FOOD MATCH: The winery suggests pairing it with, among other things, lightly grilled meat and fish, the red-wine-and-fish combination apparently fostered by the crisp brown smoky charred edges. I'd nominate it with lamb for a stellar wine-and-red-meat match, or go with cheese-centric dishes, perhaps featuring Spain's iconic Manchega.

WHEN TO DRINK: It's certainly drinkable now, although its punchy acidity and tannins call for grilled meat or sharp cheeses alongside. It's not an investment keeper, but five years or more in a good cellar certainly wouldn't hurt it.

VALUE:
I was pleased to duck well under Wine-Searcher.com's $21 average retail; still, it's a good value in the $20 range.

WEB LINK
Here's a winery fact sheet on the 2013 vintage. From the "tasting notes" menu on the right-hand side of the page you can select 2011 and other vintages for more specific details.

FIND THIS WINE ONLINE:
Compare prices and find vendors for Viña Alberdi Rioja Reserva on Wine-Searcher.com.

To read more about Rioja and browse an extensive list of Rioja wines, prices and vendors, use this Wine-Searcher.com link.
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Re: April Wine Focus: Rioja and Ribera del Duero

by Jenise » Mon Apr 15, 2019 10:22 pm

So I sent Bob to the cellar last night to fetch a Rioja, and he brought back a Toro instead:

2014 Bodegas Elías Mora Toro Descarte Tinta de Toro, Tempranillo
Day one: Big fruit with chewy, dusty tannins gripping hard, we leave it for next day.

That's today. Here's the update:
Day two: Pruny, oxidated nose. Tastes better than it smells but the nose is offputting. 2026, people? I don't think so.

Ironic that the name 'Descarte' means discard. Literally, one should do this.
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
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Re: April Wine Focus: Rioja and Ribera del Duero

by Bob Parsons Alberta » Mon Apr 15, 2019 11:11 pm

Another dud? I do not seem to have that issue, you seem to have a fair few. Buying issues?
I like to follow wines that appear to have a good track record. Easy to research.
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Re: April Wine Focus: Rioja and Ribera del Duero

by David M. Bueker » Tue Apr 16, 2019 8:57 pm

2002 R. López de Heredia Rioja Reserva Viña Tondonia was brutally corked.
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Re: April Wine Focus: Rioja and Ribera del Duero

by Jenise » Tue Apr 16, 2019 9:00 pm

Bob Parsons Alberta wrote:Another dud? I do not seem to have that issue, you seem to have a fair few. Buying issues?
I like to follow wines that appear to have a good track record. Easy to research.


You work in a wine store and get the opp to taste before you buy. I don't. So I get the occasional dud. Also make some great discoveries vs only buying wines I know and trust.
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
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Re: April Wine Focus: Rioja and Ribera del Duero

by Jenise » Thu Apr 18, 2019 3:11 pm

Took a 2001 La Rioja Alta 904 to a lunch in Vancouver last week. I purchased six of these a long while ago, and have cellared them perfectly since. Opened the first one six months ago, corked. Another in February was brilliant. I was totally in love with it. Expected same from the third bottle I took to lunch--a dud. Not much fruit, and overwelming brett. There, Bob Parsons, is that a wine you approve of? Still another dud....
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Re: April Wine Focus: Rioja and Ribera del Duero

by Bob Parsons Alberta » Sun Apr 21, 2019 10:49 pm

2015 Bodegas Riojanas Rioja Vina Albina Crianza.

It has been a while since I have seen a Vina Albina in my area so interested in tasting.

Good nat cork, $25 Cdn, 14% alc, decanted no sediment noted. Classic rioja label.

Medium violet red color, quite aromatic over 3 days with earth, dried red fruits, cherry and floral hints as well.
Initial entry thought is rather on the young side. Quite fruit driven, medium tannins, lengthy finish. "Cedar palate" from across the table. Raspberry noted and more than an entry level wine, this crianza will age nicely I feel.

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