Having tasted 1982 Gran Reserva and 1981 Reserva at a dinner in 2014 I am a paid up fan of this winery. Not that the Reserva or Gran Reserva are expensive but the Rioja Crianza offers stunning value to wine drinkers. Having spent less time in the winery it is lighter, fresh and vibrant exploration of Tempranillo. Red fruits, roses, spice and leather. It is mid weight, soft and juicy. Make no mistake though, there is still the hallmark Tempranillo silken mouth feel and savouriness that is a highlight of the grape. A few years in bottle has really done it the world of good.
With over one hundred years of experience you are not going to find a better place to start tasting traditional Rioja. They started in the highly regarded and high altitude Rioja Alavesa, then slowly acquired vineyards across the Alta (also high altitude) and lower, hotter Baja region. They make remarkable wines that can age extremely well at the top end. Just lovely.
A large and varied region and Spain’s quality flagship. Sub-regions Alta and Alavesa are the high altitude cooler parts that show elegant and almost Burgundian Tempranillo wines. Baja is the low hot lands sub region where Garnacha (Grenache) becomes more important. Producer is the most important determiner of quality as producers range from traditional savoury wines to modern silky, pure wines. The whites can be neutral and simple through to pretty and silky affairs.
Top quality grape grown all over the Peninsula (with many pseudonyms). It can be used for Rosado or Joven (released after 6 months) all the way up to Gran Reserva (60 months in the winery). It ages very well and top examples are said to compare to Burgundy. Cherry and cola are typical descriptors, it has moderate to low acid, moderate tannin and the naturally high pH allows for a silky mouthfeel that is not seen in other red wines.
Red wines are aged for 2 years with at least 6 months in oak. Crianza whites and rosés must be aged for at least 1 year with at least 6 months in oak.