From Portugal we cross the border into Spain. Being the larger country Spain exhibits much more variation across regions due to climate, soil types and historical decisions. A quick search reveals La Mancha to be quite continental, far from the moderating influence of the ocean.
Grenache is a major component of Southern-Rhône style wines (the others being Syrah and Mourvèdre), with blends incorporating various varietals to create a result greater than the sum of its parts. Grenache is the bright, hot berry component, sometimes bordering into cooked-jam territory.
Flavor Intensity: Medium+
Quality: Very Good
Readiness/Cellaring: Can drink now, potential to cellar
Identity: Spain / La Mancha / Grenache
Price: High-priced (RRP $22)
Long thin tears
Bright purple rim
Aromas of stewed dark and red berries, rose, plum and raspberry
Flavours of sweet cherries, dark honey, plum and cranberry juice
Dry with just a touch of residual sugar
Good acid and tannic grip balance
Like biting into a ripe, juicy berry
Try with a mild/medium-hot meat curry
This is purely a matter of personal taste, but during the cooler seasons I do prefer to have the strong and reassuring tannin grip of such bold red wines as Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah, with an alcohol level to match.
The proof was in the bottle however, and what I found inside was a bright, youthful wine full of expression, fruit-forward without being cloying. The tannin component was firm yet tempered, letting you feel it’s presence without smothering you.
This red wine would not be out of place at a summer pool party – It felt a little incongruent but not unpleasant to drink such a wine during winter, and serves as an example to keep an open mind and be ready to explore new things.
A few criticisms: Before even opening the bottle I felt slightly conned – the name “Rojo” seemed too similar to Rioja, a renowned wine growing region in Spain. Sometimes it’s hard to draw the line between wilful deception and clever marketing – on the one hand we can understand the producer’s need to sell a product and make a living, on the other the consumer will find it that much harder to make a well-informed decision.
I also take issue with the synthetic cork. I haven’t had much experience with these but from what I’ve gathered they seem to be recommended for wines made to drink young – over a longer period they do not offer enough protection against oxygen and may even alter the flavour of the wine. This seems a shame as this wine definitely ticks enough boxes to suggest good cellaring potential.
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