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MWG October 17th tasting (5/5): New and old style Rioja

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Rioja Reserva 2005, Siete Viñas, Barón de Ley ($39.50, 11962627)
An unusual blend of the seven grape varieties, including white, permitted in Rioja: Tempranillo (55%), Garnacha (15%), Graciano (15%), Mazuelo (7%), Viura (7%), Malvasia (2%) and Garnacha Blanca (1%). Manually harvested. The varieties were vinified and matured separately in French and American oak barrels for three years, then blended and aged another 12 months in French oak foudres. 14.5% ABV. The Cellier New Arrivals wine in this flight.
Meat, sawed wood, bright candied fruit, oak and musk. Concentrated and fruit-forward but surprisingly fresh; smooth on the surface but tense and astringent underneath; impressively broad but not what you’d call deep. The fruit seems perfumed (the white varieties speaking?), redolent of spice, flowers, sandalwood, balsam and, of course, oak, with some coffee and graphite joining in on the long finish. Fans of New World wine will enjoy this; traditionalists may too, even as they note that it’s not very Rioja-like. (Buy again? Maybe.)

Rioja Reserva 2001, Viña Tondonia, R. Lopez de Heredia ($42.75, 11667901)
Estate-grown Tempranillo (75%), Garnacha (15%) and Graciano and Mazuelo (10%). Manually harvested. Fermented with indigenous yeasts. Matured in estate-made American oak barrels for six years, with twice yearly racking. Fined with egg whites. Bottled unfiltered. 13% ABV.
Lighter and redder than the red-purple Siete Viñas, with a hint of brick at the pale rim. The closed nose – little but anise and sweet spices at first – soon blossoms, with berries, cherry, old wood, leather, underbrush and clay wafting from the glass. In the mouth, the wine is medium-bodied, tart, lean and, despite the mildly astringent tannins, supple. The glowing core of sweet fruit is shrouded in thin, crinkly layers of dried herbs, minerals, old excelsior and leaf mould and, like a cooling ember, fades through the long slatey finish. So civilized, so balanced, so authentic. Continued evolving over the hour or so it was in my glass, indicating it hasn’t peaked yet. (Buy again? With pleasure.)

Written by carswell

October 28, 2013 at 11:07

Posted in Tasting notes

Tagged with ,

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