TN: Rioja-La Rioja Alta, Remirez, Muga, Chivite, Ygay, San V

Last night my Tasting group met to drink some Rioja wines. This particular group tends to drink more Bordeaux and Burgundy, but has recently been branching out more. Of course, one member decided to go to Florida just so he could avoid the tasting (or so rumor has it). The wines were served blind with a bit of food and cheeses. We enjoyed them over 3 hours. I think I probably liked the wines more than the group as a whole but in any event, there was little unanimity on favorites.

Our host Dick started us off with two whites:
2006 Dehlinger Chardonnay See’s Selection
Light golden in color. The nose has some sulfur, slight grapefruit and a bit of white flower (English Hawthorn?) notes (we had such a tree on my front lawn growing up). The nose is more Lemon chiffon. A nicely complex chard with just a slight bitterness on the finish. 50+3+12+17+6=88

2006 Dehlinger Chardonnay Estate
Slightly deeper gold in color. The nose is more seltzer and limes. Nice texture. This is more recognizable as California. It has more of everything than the See’s but really the two are virtually the same. A bit more bitter on the finish. I am not a huge Cal Chard fan and this was a nice one, but not my favorite style. I think the group preferred this one though. 50+3+12+16+6=87

The Rioja’s:
1994 La Rioja Alta Gran Riserva 904
Garnet in color, clear and bright. The nose has an earthy funk to it with cherries and vanilla. Some tobacco. On the palate, this is lovely with complex layering of cherries, dill, tobacco and earth. Nice finish. Traditional wine that split the group, some loved it others hated it. 50+3+13+18+8=92

2000 Conde de la Salceda Reserva
Made by Chivite, the Navarra based winery, but this is a Rioja. Deep purple /ruby in color, mostly opaque and bright. The nsoe has some funk with cherries and vanilla. With air, this has lots of Faygo® Red Pop. Soft texture. Black cherries and Iodine. Nice complexity. Long finish. Very nice wine. 50+4+12+17+7=90

1998 Muga Prado Enea
Ruby in color with black streaks, Mostly clear and bright. The nose is dusty with cherries, vanilla and dill. With air some tobacco comes out. Traditional cine. Juicy texture with cherries and black cherries and some tobacco on the palate. 50+4+13+17+7=91

1996 Remirez de Ganuza Reserva
Garnet/purple in color, mostly opaque and bright. The nose takes a second then explodes. For some that was horrible, for Ken and I, it was great. There is certainly some brett here, but I did not find it that much. This has a nice burgundy quality to it with merde, black cherries and then also some tobacco. Juicy texture. Lots of fruit but drinking young with tight layering. Plenty of tannins to resolve. Long finish. This was the groups last place wine but also got two first place votes. For me, this was one of the best wines I have had in a while. I would never guess it to be Rioja (or even Spain), more likely northern Rhone or perhaps Burgundy. 50+4+14+18+8=94

1991 Castillo Ygay Gran Reserva Especial
Garnet in color, clear and bright. The nose has black cherries, camphor and a good bite of alcohol. On the palate, cherries and eucalyptus. Kens mentioned Graham Crackers on the nose and after he said that, I did notice it. Odd. Long finish with some tannins. Showing some age but not 18 years. 50+3+12+17+6=88

2004 San Vincente
Purple in color with glints of ruby, opaque and bright. The nose is cherry milk shake. Very modern in style with raspberries, cherries and slightly sweet. Some heat. I really liked this wine, it was the groups WOTN, but this could have been from California or Oz. Nothing “indigenous” about this. That said, it is well made, hedonistic and needs a few years. 50+4+13+18+7=92

2003 El Puntido
Purple in color, shimmering bright. The nose is tight, with air it plays out as candied cherries. Juicy texture. This has a wall of tannins. Big cherry fruit. This is young and needs plenty of time. Right now it is a tannic fruit bomb. I see lots of potential, but I found this wine too over the top. Of course, the group found it just right and this was the groups #2 wine. I think in 5 years, I will like it much better. 50+4+11+17+6=88

Dick finished us off with Poached pears dotted with Grains of Paradise (fascinating spice) and
1997 Suduiraut Sauternes
Orange gold in color, clear and bright. The nose has honey and oranges. Thick and not cloying. Slightly lacking acidity if I was going to nit-pick. Flavors of honeyed apricots. The finish is a bit clipped. Very nice wine. 50+4+13+17+7=91