Conde de Valdemar has 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.
Having recently had the 1982 Gran Reserva and 1981 Reserva I am a paid up fan of this winery. 2005 was a crackingly good vintage and therefore the wine is too. Dense, dark fruited and almost inky, there is hints of hung meat, earth, tea leaf, black stones and much more. The palate is rich and full bodied with plentiful fine grained tannins. A lick of acid helps keep this wine fresh. Drink the 2005 now or over the long, long term cellaring. Think 50 years in a great cellar!
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). Tempranillo can be used for Rosado or Joven (released after 6 months) all the way up to Gran Reserva (60 months in the winery). Comparable to Burgundy with the way it ages and takes on a similar ethereal quality. Typical descriptors include cherry and cola, 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 aged for a minimum of 60 months, to include at least 18 months in oak. White and rosé wines aged for 48 months, to include 6 months on wood.