Monday, December 7, 2009

La Rioja Alta, Reserva

La Rioja Alta, Vina Ardanza, Rioja, Reserva, 2000.

I will confess, I struggle with identifying Spanish wine. In particular Rioja, but if you can find that dill component on the nose, and I say this realizing that in the last post I said NOT to give any significant weight to aromatics, that you too can learn to identify Rioja. Now that I know its there it's impossible to mistake. I say that, of course, knowing that I probably will not identify it correctly next time I taste it. One thing you can't be in the blind tasting game is cocky. You have to assume everyone is out to get you.

The thing about Tempranillo if it gets French oak treatment, as many do in Navarra and Ribera del Duero is that it tastes like just about anything. It's moderate across the board, moderate tannin, moderate acid ("they say" it's on the lower side of acidity, but I frequently do not find that to be true), moderate fruit concentration. And the fruit profile is both red and black just to complicate matters. Some aromatics that might help pin point the wine are leather and tobacco leaves, if anyone knows what tobacco leaves smell like. I guess I don't. Maybe our smokers out there can fill us in.

This was a great wine, and I don't say that very often, at $34.99 it's a perfect wine for the holidays because its savory with dried herbs and fruit and the time in barrel has created a slightly oxidized, but lovely flavor profile. You should grab a bottle for you and ONE OTHER PERSON. No need to share. Get it at the Wine House.


Cabfrancophile said...

Is the dill from American oak? I've read Rioja traditionally used American oak, though that's probably changing.

Tobacco smells like heaven! That's why I like Cab Franc so much, it often smells like tobacco/heaven! The most fresh tobacco-y wine I've had, though, was a Blaufrankisch Zweigelt blend from Burgenland, Austria.

Amy said...

Yes, dill aromas are from American oak, and its so obvious when you put your nose into it!

I will have to bone up on my tobacco leaf aromas and how they relate to wine!!! I will look for it in the next Cab Franc I drink (can't say I drink much Zweigelt - I find the quality to be so up and down, so I never know what I'm getting.)

T. J. Hooker said...

I find freshly baked pickle bread to be redolent of traditional Rioja. Canter's on Fairfax makes a good one from partially leavened dill dough.

Amy said...

Are you serious about the dill dough? I have to go try that. I love dough and dill so it seems dill dough is right up my alley.