Rioja (ree-OH-hah) is one of the best known and highly regarded wine regions of Spain. Tempranillo accounts for the majority of the wine produced, although there are several red and white varietals grown, including Garnacha, Carignan, and Macebo. The three sub-regions (Alvesa, Alta, Baja) are on the southern banks of the Ebro River, which flows east and is nearest to Pamplona.
The vineyards of Rioja Alta are at higher altitudes, creating cooler growing conditions. The cool climate produces wines with stronger acidity and more moderate alcohol. Tempranillo also thrives on the clay, iron, and alluvial soils, which also give the earth a rich, red colour. The wines here are expressive and finessed, also complement the cooling breeze off the Atlantic.
The Crianza classification indicates that the wine has been aged for a minimum of 24 months, twelve of which are spent in small oak barrels called casks. In its prime, this wine is delicious today, but can also be cellared easily to 2024. Serve at proper room temperature of 18 C.
The mixture of fruit with earthy notes and spice provide a complex aroma that offers both sweet and savoury. The red berries of cherry and raspberry are freshly picked and even a little dusty-dirty. Forest floor, cedar, toasty oak, and pencil lead all combine with vanilla bean, adding a natural sweetness to those broodier notes.
Structurally sounds and with all the foundations of a great wine, from balanced acidity and tannin, to a long finish. This wine definitely over-delivers in our books; a great wine for many occasions at a great price! The core of red berries and fruit continue from the nose, and the combo of vanilla and ripened fruit gives a jammy layer, accented with cedar and earth.
Serve with Spanish inspired grazing board must have Manchego, and an assortment of other cheeses, as well as cured ham, roasted peppers, almonds and figs.