|Wines and Recordings|
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Some 250 miles South of Bordeaux in France, across the border in Spain, lies one of the world’s most important wine-growing regions: Rioja. The area produces a very special red wine made from the indigenous Tempranillo grape which is rarely grown elsewhere. Riojas tend to be medium-bodied, very dark red in colour, and strong in aroma. The region has been designated Denominación de Origen Calificada Rioja since 1928.
Rioja wines are aged in oak casks, and there are over 270 ageing bodegas in Rioja which have a total of over 900,000 casks. The different Rioja wine categories are based on minimum ageing periods of between 1 and 3 years in casks, and between 6 months and 6 years in the bottle: Crianza ages 1 year in the cask and 1 year in the bottle Reserva requires a total of 3 years aging and Gran Reserva a minimum of 5 years.
I got an early start on Hispanic Heritage Month, and opened a few bottles whose producers consistently win awards and international recognition:
Marqués de Cáceres is probably the most well-known of the Rioja growers, and can be found in many wine shops and restaurants, his Gran Reserva 1995 (an excellent year) is full of cherry and gamy flavours and is available at Central market at $31.99.
Rioja Herencia Remondo La Montesa (Crianza) 2002: I really enjoyed this one, it tasted of berries, and left a fresh finish, and at $14.99 from Sigel’s it was also the best price.
Bodegas Montecillo Reserva 2000 ($24.99) and Finca Allende 2003 ($23.99) both from Central Market, convinced me that I needed to put some further serious study into these delicious Spanish wines.
So if you want to curl up on those cool fall evenings with a bottle of good red - then look no further. If, on the other hand, you are still hankering after a last glass of fresh late-summer white wine to have with your oysters, then let me recommend what was a new taste experience for me: Albariño. This is the grape they use to make dry white wine in the Rias Baixes section of the Galicia region of Northwestern Spain; it produces a distinctively crisp wine with aromas of apples and peaches, and can easily turn you into an addict. The 2005 Don Olegario is available at Central market at $20.99.
All that is left to say is: “Salud y amor y tiempo para disfrutarlo” – cheers!