With the end of year upon us, most people would opt for expensive Champagne to celebrate the occasion. But as I’ve posited time and again, price is not a reliable indicator of quality. Sometimes more pleasure can be had from exotic yet affordable wines that can be found with study and patience.
- Clarity: Clear
- Intensity: Deep
- Colour: Ruby
- Condition: Clean
- Intensity: Medium+
- Development: Developing
- Sweetness: Dry
- Acidity: High
- Tannin: Medium+
- Alcohol: Medium+
- Body: Medium+
- Flavor Intensity: Medium+
- Finish: Medium+
- Quality: Very Good
- Readiness/Cellaring: Can drink now, potential to cellar
- Identity: Spain / Rioja / Tempranillo and Graciano (90%/10%)
- Price: High-priced (~$40)
- Long, thick tears
- Aromas of dark red berries, stewed plums, smoked meat (pork?), prunes
- Flavours of dark red berries, prunes, plums, honey, cola (?)
- Mouthwatering acidity keeping the palate clean
- Smooth, velvety tannins
- Smoked meat character may be from oak
- Served with Korean-style BBQ
This wine is a good primer to Spain’s unique classification system. By law, a Reserva wine must be aged for at least 36 months, with 12 months spend in barrel at minimum. According to the back of the label, this wine had in face spend 24 months in oak, going well beyond the minimum requirement and verging onto Gran Reserva territory.
The only reason I can think of for it to remain as a Reserva was that it was not left in bottle for a long enough time before release to qualify for Gran Reserva status. The key words are “before release” – seeing as this is a 2006 vintage, one could assume that this wine has been in circulation since 2009-2010, which means it has aged considerably up to today. The burden of deciding whether this increased circulation on the market has affected the quality of the wine lies on the consumer.
For something with 8 years of age on it, the colour was surprisingly deep and youthful, although the aroma profile revealed its age. The front of the label claims that the wine was unfiltered, although the back label claims it was fined with egg products, making a fine distinction between the two – fining encourages various particles within the wine to clump together and sink to the bottom to be removed, whereas filtration physically pumps the wine through a filter to remove anything that is left over from fining. Both methods can have a marked effect on the quality of the wine, so winemakers need to be very careful.
I was unable to finish this in one sitting – you can see the wine was enjoyed with a sumptuous Korean-style BBQ. I transferred the remaining wine into a half-bottle and preserved it with argon gas for a later occasion. From the lack of sediment left in the original bottle, I must conclude that the fining (but no filtration) was very thorough and clean. I look forward to finishing off this wine before the end of the year.
PS – You can still get 50% off your Personal Wine Consultation through Consult Wine before the end of the year.
Read more: Somms, Critics and Robots