(Pay no attention to the subject line. Just having some fun here.)
What mattered is that I enjoyed the company more than anything else in another departure from our regular Bordeaux-themed dinners, and this time with mostly mature Rioja reds.
Venue was at the Lower East Side with tasty Argentine appetizers and delicious beefy steaks. I’ll also take the efficiently-polite service in this very casual joint over those I’ve experienced in other local steakhouses.
A couple of racy, old-school whites started the parade of fine beverages in the most appropriate way.
Etienne Calsac ‘Les Revenants’ Champagne
Light and clear. Impressed with rock-minerals, bracingly-intense, and some earthiness. Not your Uncle Pierre’s regular varietals, but this came through nicely. B+
2016 Azienda Agricola Valentini Trebbiano d’Abruzzo
Wood, Meyer lemon, highly intense and good length. Can’t recall if I ever had a white T-d-A, but am a fan of this bottle. B+
On to the reds. Bordeaux? Barolo? At some point, when one tastes wines like these and ponder about it, Rioja actually makes the case as one region where prolonged aging can rank it at par with other great old-world aged wines.
Reds with oldest from 1964 usually invite off or un-drinkable bottles. However, in tonight’s case, every single bottle that followed threw that theory out the window and each made statements that mature Rioja can and will kick ass tonight.
1995 CVNE Viña Real Gran Reserva
Traces of youthful but sweetly-fine tannin, big delicious fruit and a man’s man tempranillo. B+
1991 Lopez de Heredia Bosconia Gran Reserva
Cinnamon and flowers. Smooth medium-bodied elegance and cool-ripened red fruit. A royalty among Rioja wines of its genre. A-
1981 Lopez de Heredia Bosconia Gran Reserva
Finesse and class. Red plump cherries with bursts of delicious acidity. Have had a few of this before that always went on the high end of this score. B+/A-
1981 CVNE Imperial Gran Reserva
Sweet ripe cherries, great balance, tobacco, complex. A-/B+
1973 CVNE Imperial Gran Reserva
There’s that trace of youthfulness with terrific acidity and layers of fine ripe fruit. Sexy. A-
1970 Marques de Riscal Rioja Reserva
Did not register as high on the pedestal scales as most of the other Rioja did, but this is no slouch by any means. A little on the harsh side, but the deeply complex leather, wood and earth made it interesting. B/B+
1970 Bodegas Bilbainas Viña Pomal Gran Reserva
A Rioja producer that very rarely make its way into prior themed lineups. Some funk on the nose, but the tasty fruit layers and smoothness hit good on the enjoyable meter. B+/B
1970 Bodegas Franco-Españolas Bordon Rioja Especial
I think I’ve had mostly the GR versions from this producer before and none, iirc, disappointed. This continued the streak. Old wood, cinnamon, earth with generous fruit. B+
1966 CVNE Imperial Gran Reserva
Tobacco, fruit and slightest of horsiness bouquet. 56 year old and this still delivered with plump blue and red fruit, mushroom notes. B+/A-
1964 CVNE Viña Real Reserva Especial
This Riojan vintage has is a godsend for winegeeks and this example showed, again why. Ripe and fresh red fruit, smoothness with muscled texture but all contributed towards an un-compromised balance. A-
1964 Bodegas Riojanas Monte Real Gran Reserva
Traditional in make-up, the generous fruit with earth, tobacco and some appropriate savory notes. A-/B+