’Tis the Season, and since you’re in the gift-giving mood (or should be), here’s a suggestion for a ready-to-drink and nicely aged Rioja Gran Reserva.
The Artacho family already enjoyed a deep-rooted winemaking tradition when it founded Bodegas Riojanas with Rafael Carreras in 1890 in Cenicero, in Rioja Alta, Spain. After undergoing eight separate expansions, the families built a new winery very near the original in San Vicente de la Sonsierra, a town on the left bank of the River Ebro.
The Rioja region was originally established in 1925 as a DO, and upgraded to DOCa in 1991 to reflect the increase in quality. The various aging categories of Rioja are Crianza, Reserva, and Gran Reserva, with the Gran Reserva receiving the most aging prior to release—a minimum of five years total aging with at least 24 months in oak.
This Gran Riserva is a blend of 80 percent tempranillo, 15 percent mazuelo, and 5 percent graciano. The wine has a burnished ruby color in the center, with just a touch of bricking at the edges to show for its 10 years in bottle. Aromas of saddle leather, grilled meats, and toast predominate in the nose. There are still some unresolved, yet soft tannins at the core of the sweet sinewy fruit. The flavors are both sweet and savory, and are delicious throughout the mouthfeel, and the very long, off-sweet finish. About $38 at Wine Exchange, and Best Wines Online.