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TASTING NOTES FROM TRIP TO RIOJA - (7/5/2013-7/12/2013)

These are the tasting notes from our one week trip to Rioja. The notes include wines tasted at wineries as well as some consumed at restaurants and pintxos bars. The trip objective was to learn more about Rioja and experience/contrast the diverse tempranillo styles. We specifically picked traditional/classic producers (Lopez de Heredia, Rioja Alta, CVNE) as well as the more modern styled Riojas (Allende, Eguren, Roda). We also visited the tasting bar at Muga.
Miscelaneous consumed in restaurants
  • 2006 Finca Allende Rioja Allende - Spain, La Rioja, Rioja (7/6/2013)
    Had it at a great restaurant "El Paraguas" in Madrid. Still Very youthful, crushed raspberries and strawberries, with nice plum notes and just a touch of well integrated oak. Great balance between sweet fruit, acidity and tannins in a medium body frame. Not extremely complex but very enjoyable for a "weak" Rioja vintage. A touch of heat blew off after 30 mins of slow ox. Great expression of non classic/traditional rioja. (90 pts.)
  • 2011 Bodegas y Viñedos de la Marquesa Rioja Blanco Fermentado en Barrica Valserrano - Spain, La Rioja, La Rioja Alavesa, Rioja (7/7/2013)
    Crisp refreshing white, cut grass, floral, notes, peaches and a note of
    lemongrass with some balancing salinity and a slight vanilla touch given the barrel fermentation. Lacking a bit on finish but easy drinking. Paired very well with tempura asparagus with garlic aioli. (88 pts.)
  • 2006 La Granja Nuestra Señora de Remelluri Rioja Reserva - Spain, La Rioja, La Rioja Alavesa, Rioja (7/8/2013)
    Had this at Sagartoki. Sweet oak, lavender, cinnamon. Full mouth dry dusty tannins, a tad chewy. A tad off balance, showing some heat, Medium finish. Very good at the price point. (89 pts.)
  • 2012 Lagar de Cervera Albariño Rías Baixas - Spain, Galicia, Rías Baixas (7/9/2013)
    Juicy refreshing white; light colored. Green apples and a touch of
    maracuya. Very pleasing but simple and straightforward.
  • 2008 C.V.N.E. (Compañía Vinícola del Norte de España) Rioja Reserva - Spain, La Rioja, La Rioja Alta, Rioja (7/9/2013)
    Simple nice fruit forward wine. (86 pts.)

Bodegas Roda
  • 2010 Bodegas Roda Rioja Sela - Spain, La Rioja, Rioja (7/8/2013)
    Light and fresh, with some rubber notes. Very young, a bit of tar and
    tongue coating tannins, not harsh but not velvety either. Ok, lacks fruit. (86 pts.)
  • 2006 Bodegas Roda Rioja Roda I Reserva - Spain, La Rioja, Rioja (7/8/2013)
    100% tempranillo. Deep color from extraction. Very modern style, elegant but full throttle and full bodied. Plum, dark berry and cocoa notes. Still rough around the edges. An intense wine. Give it many years. (89 pts.)
  • 2009 Bodegas Roda Rioja Cirsion - Spain, La Rioja, Rioja (7/8/2013)
    100% tempranillo.
    Intense red ruby red. Sweet fruit, Full mouthfull, tar and rubber. Is this "minerality" the "brand" of the house? Like the oaky woody notes that gIve it an extra dimension. Long finish. A lot going on but this a big robust baby. (90 pts.)
  • 2008 Bodegas Roda Rioja Roda Reserva - Spain, La Rioja, Rioja (7/8/2013)
    Deep ruby color. Full mouthfeel, silky, red fruits, feminine with a long
    finish. Accesible now but has stuff to keep for some years. Roda says the difference between Roda and Roda I is the red berry emphasis for Roda and dark berries for Roda I. Although different vintages, we could actually perceive this in the tasting. Well made wines, modern. (88 pts.)

The Classics, Lopez de Heredia, Muga and Rioja Alta
  • 2001 R. López de Heredia Rioja Reserva Viña Tondonia - Spain, La Rioja, La Rioja Alta, Rioja (7/7/2013)
    After 30 mins slow ox. Prominent caramel smoky notes, strawberries, bright acidity, leather, with mouthcoating velvety tannins. Still feels youthful. Awesome pairing with baby lamb chops. The wine tames the gamyness, the lamb tames the acidity. Lacks, a bit of depth. Elegant, pinot like in body. (88 pts.)
  • 2003 R. López de Heredia Rioja Blanco Reserva Viña Gravonia - Spain, La Rioja, La Rioja Alta, Rioja (7/8/2013)
    100% Viura. Sherry like nose given the oxidative profile and an onion whiff at the end. Does not do much for me at all. Not my style. (82 pts.)
  • 2009 Bodegas Muga Rioja Reserva Selección Especial - Spain, La Rioja, La Rioja Alta, Rioja (7/9/2013)
    70% tempranillo, 20% graciano, 10% mazuelo. Deep color, Tar, rubber, blueberries. Grippy mouthcoating tannins, a tad oaky for me. (86 pts.)
  • 2005 Bodegas Muga Rioja Gran Reserva Prado Enea - Spain, La Rioja, La Rioja Alta, Rioja (7/9/2013)
    80% tempranillo, 20% garnacha. Beautiful nose, violets, perfumed, a touch of cedar and vanilla. Medium bodied, elegant silky and delicate, with lingering vanilla. This is very elegant classic rioja. (91 pts.)
  • 2009 Bodegas Muga Rioja Torre Muga (Reserva) - Spain, La Rioja, La Rioja Alta, Rioja (7/9/2013)
    Smoky caramel notes, pointy tannins, lots of structure. This is just a
    baby, but has plenty of potential. Lacks a bit of acidity. Full bodied.
    But very nice, less elegant than the Prado Enea. (90 pts.)
  • 2005 La Rioja Alta Rioja Viña Arana Reserva - Spain, La Rioja, La Rioja Alta, Rioja (7/9/2013)
    Smoky, cocoa notes, cherries, beautiful light ruby color. Medium bodied,with a touch of vanilla, bacon fat. Well balanced, first time having thisand this is very nice. Lacks a bit on the finish but otherwise very nice traditional rioja. One of the nice surprises given it costs about 12 Euros. (89 pts.)
  • 2004 La Rioja Alta Rioja Viña Ardanza Reserva - Spain, La Rioja, La Rioja Alta, Rioja (7/9/2013)
    A hint of barnyard, oak and cedar notes. Smooth, silky and rounded
    mouthfeel. Carries more weight than the Arana 2005 and better acidity. Much longer finish and the smokiness persist nicely. Very nice, elegant. (90 pts.)

Wines from the Eguren wineries, San Vicente, Vinedo de Paganos, Sierra Cantabria, Teso La Monja
Highlight of the trip was the tasting of the top line wines of the Eguren Family including a 1978 Sierra Cantabria Gran Reserva and Teso La Monja Alabaster 2010 (Toro Region). This was a beautiful educational tasting about "terroir and the vineyards" as these 6 wines were all 100% tempranillo, from the same winemaker (Marcos Eguren), all aged in french oak between 18 and 24 months. I highly recommend visiting Senorio San Vicente and Vinedo de Paganos. The service is phenomenal and the wines are great.
  • 1978 Bodegas Sierra Cantabria Rioja Gran Reserva - Spain, La Rioja, Rioja (7/11/2013)
    Beautiful amber and orange hues, incredible nose of plums and raisins, a touch of leather. On the palate bright acidity, beautifully alive, with
    plums and just a touch of minerals given its age. Wonderful. Elegant, silky, feminine. (92 pts.)
  • 2010 Teso La Monja Toro Alabaster - Spain, Castilla y León, Toro (7/11/2013)
    Sweet cocoa notes, toffee, very ripe fruits, a touch of passion fruit and could it be, umami? Very new world, full bodied and rich. A tad hot. Must be the Toro. May be the victim of palate fatigue. (90 pts.)
  • 2009 Bodegas Sierra Cantabria Rioja Amancio - Spain, La Rioja, Rioja (7/11/2013)
    Divine nose, plums, raisins, expressive, ripe fruits, intense. This is a
    beautiful in between La Nieta and Finca El Bosque. Has some tannins as well. Some vanilla touches that although I normally don't like it it completes this wines. 24 months 100 % french oak. The longest barrel aged in the lineup. (92 pts.)
  • 2010 Bodegas Sierra Cantabria Rioja Finca El Bosque - Spain, La Rioja, Rioja (7/11/2013)
    Darker than La Nieta, a touch purple, Balsamic and blackberries, opulent, much more in your face, very fruity and young. This is big intense wine, perhaps too big. 5 percent aged in hungarian casks. Surprisingly short finish. (88 pts.)
  • 2010 Viñedos de Páganos Rioja La Nieta - Spain, La Rioja, Rioja (7/11/2013)
    2010 is, according to Marcos Eguren, the Best vintage in Rioja in 30 plus years.
    Intense ruby red, Elegant nose, red cherries, rosemary, balsamic, some minerals but less than puntido that sits next to it. Well rounded, no tannins, medium bodied silky and elegant, fruits and very long finish. 93. (93 pts.)
  • 2009 Viñedos de Páganos Rioja El Puntido - Spain, La Rioja, La Rioja Alavesa, Rioja (7/11/2013)
    Very fresh, super mineral, smoky, more structure than the San Vicente. Less expressive than the San Vicente and fuller bodied. This has great aging potential. It is a baby now though. (89 pts.)
  • 2009 Señorío de San Vicente Tempranillo Rioja San Vicente - Spain, La Rioja, Rioja (7/11/2013)
    Bright purple, clear. Blueberries and dark cherries, balsamic with great
    mineral nose, tar. Smokiness of pain grille. Explodes in the mouth, well rounded, medium to long finish, medium bodied. Nose translates to palate beautifully. Very nice modern classic expression of Rioja. (90 pts.)

I finished the trip leaning towards the modern styled Riojas of Eguren, Roda and Allende. These are modern reds but the winemakers specially in the case of Eguren are making the wines starting in the vineyard so they are taking a classic approach in that sense. Only time will tell if these modern wines will age as well as the classic Riojas. Some of the classics Gran Reserva Riojas like Prado Enea or Rioja Alta are also fantastic wines and they will always have a place in my cellar as well.
Posted from CellarTracker
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Originally posted by GregT:
Only time will tell if these modern wines will age as well as the classic Riojas.

Many of them actually do. Roda for sure, some of the wines from more traditional bodegas do as well. It's the beauty of Tempranillo.

Nice trip you had.

GregT, do you think the Eguren wines will evolve similar to Roda's? At what age do you think the Roda's will peak? I bought 04, 05, Roda I and 08 Roda. 08 Amancio, 10 La Nieta And Magnums of San Vicente 06 and El puntido 05.

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