It's impossible to understate Rioja's importance in the history of Spanish wine, and the place it's achieved in the global wine market today. Synonymous with Tempranillo, Rioja produces (mostly) reds of varying styles and price points. On the surface, the labelling laws in Rioja are simple: wines are classified by how long they are aged before release, from the youngest Robles and Jovens, to Crianzas, Reservas, and finally Gran Reservas. In theory, only wines made from the best grapes are aged into Gran Reservas, meaning consumers have an easy time of determining quality. But more often than not, the distinctions end up being stylistic: younger wines are fresh and fruit-forward, while older wines take on a dusty elegance thanks to long aging. To further complicate matters, there's a growing movement of producers who are abandoning extended aging in an effort to focus on purity of fruit.
Armentia Y Madrazo remain firmly in the "old school" of Rioja bodegas, using classic labelling conventions, and often exceeding the required aging minimums. If you've never had this style of wine, this is an excellent starting point. Their Crianza, made from 100% Tempranillo, exhibits textbook characteristics, and can be enjoyed now or over the next 2-3 years.
Red-berried fruit aromas leap from the glass of this vibrant red, with plenty of raspberry, cherry, field strawberry and pomegranate. There's a faint underlying earthiness typical of the region, along with appealing notes of vanilla and toast that come from barrel aging.
Medium-bodied on the palate, with more of the red fruit notes we found on the nose. Tart raspberry and cherry mingle with flavours of cola and red liquorice, along with fresh herbs and spice. The tannins are soft and dusty, carrying through to the elegant dry finish. Fans of lighter reds like Pinot Noir and Gamay will enjoy this fresh, balanced red.
Armentia Y Madrazo's Crianza is juicy and versatile, and will pair well with anything from firm cheeses, to poultry, to pork.