Our blind tasting group held another monthly tasting, this time featuring a theme of wines from Rioja and Ribera del Duero with at least 10 years of age.
We were graciously hosted by our member organizer for this month and another member whose home was our venue. Together they put out some fine appetizers and after 3 starter white wines, 16 of us enjoyed 2 flights of 6 and 1 flight of 5, all brown bagged and unmasked only after individual scoring and discussion. One of our guests, a local certified sommelier, arranged the wines with no order revealed. Here`s the results with the producer`s name and details added after making notes:
First Flight of 6:
1990 BODEGAS ALEJANDRO FERNANDEZ TINTO PESQUERA RESERVA RIBERA del DUERO- it had a deep dark rich purple color; the nose was so inviting offering some roasted coffee and dark fruit notes followed by a pleasing taste profile of youthful, vibrant, spicy black cherry and berry; there were obvious oak influences, but not to a fault; it had complex and serious although with enough grace to tone down the power; one of my favs in the flight and the group`s #1.
2004 PAGO de los CAPELLONES RESERVA RIBERA del DUERO- 90% Tempranillo, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon; rich deep ruby color, a grapey nose and fruit profile with some sweetness and noticeable oak influence; it finished a bit hot; this bottle needs time to integrate and evolve or it was just in a valley stage and somewhat tight and untogether; I graded it down as did the group.
2005 LA RIOJA ALTA VINA ARDANZA RESERVA RIOJA- youthful deep dark purple, aromatics of nice spicy, minty coconut which continued on and was joined by fresh, bright dark fruit that crescendoed past mid palate and made for a delightful finish; I had this tied in the middle of the pack with the next wine which seemed to be a dup once my notes were made.
2005 LA RIOJA ALTA VINA ARDANZA RESERVA RIOJA- my notes were essentially the same as the previous wine except I added a touch of eucalyptus to the taste; I scored it the same as the one before it and lo and behold, it was the same wine; a blind validation that my sensory perceptions were on [and no bottle variation existed].
2004 R. LOPEZ de HEREDIA VINA BOSCONIA RESERVA RIOJA- I was hoping to get a Bosconia or 2 as I`m a big fan and immediately pegged this as being one with its elegance, grace and light to medium body and weight; I guessed the vintage to be in the early 2000s as well; this wine had a youthful color and aromas of fresh violets and a mild pleasant red raspberry and dark red fruit followed by a taste of more of the same; if Vina Tondonia is masculine, this is the feminine expression; 80% Tempranillo, 10% Garnacha and 10% Mazuello and Graciano.
2005 R. LOPEZ de HEREDIA VINA BOSCONIA RIOJA- once again, I`m blessed to have another candidate for a Bosconia as this bottle offered charm and finesse as well; the color was a young, vibrant dark ruby, the aromatics contained really inviting fresh red cherry/ berry notes and the taste came in with more of the same with a bit of spice; as with the one before, it was light in weight and body and had such an easy on the palate texture all the way though to the back end; this was beautifully balanced and if it was in fact a Bosconia, it was more expressive than the one before it and I rated both highly with this one ahead of the other; 80% Tempranillo, 15% Garnacha, 3% Graciano, 2% Mazuelo.
Second flight of 6:
1994 RODA “RODA 1” RESERVA RIOJA- pure ruby color, nice spicy, fruity nose; it had a better taste of red and black fruit with everything in balance; elegance pervades and pleasure follows; it was consistent throughout and held on for continued enjoyment at the end; loved it; my top wine of the flight; 83% Tempranillo, 17% Garnacha.
1998 RODA “RODA l” RESERVA RIOJA- seemingly this had the initial bright ruby color; nice welcoming aromas greet me at the rim of the glass followed by mild licorice and vanilla laced fresh fruit which at the outset was a bit sweet and by the back end resulted in a bit of tartness and some astringency, all on the mild side; I liked it and concluded it needs more time to evolve and will get to a good place; I scored 2nd and the group had it as their #! In the flight.
2000 RODA ‘RODA ll” RESERVA RIOJA- my understanding is the ll gets more time in the barrel than the l and with this bottle it`s difficult to delineate one from the other since this one had a Bretty component that jaded the experience; even then, there was some redemption coming from some decent spicy red and black fruit; we all graded this one down.
2009 REMELLURI RESERVA RIOJA- obviously this bottle did not fall into the suggested vintage theme and it did show its youthful exuberance which stood out among others on the night as I got it as way young and yet to be evolved; it had massive black cherry aromas preempting sweet black cherry flavors and finished with some fairly stiff tannins; it was full bodied and as even evidenced by the dark rich color, a seriously extracted wine needing to take a breath.
2005 OLARRA CERRO ANON RESERVA RIOJA- youthful vibrant ruby color; significant oak influences early on and throughout with coconut, mint, eucalyptus and vanilla flavored red and black fruit dominating the entire experience; more one dimensional landing high up on the taste scale; it finished about mid of the flight for most.
2004 RAMON BILBAO GRAN RESERVA RIOJA- youthful color, nice talc and spicy dark fruit comes in the nose and after with more blueberry and blackberry notes riding along on the smooth and easy mouthfeel; it had an elegance that appealed to me, but not to the group as they had it last in the flight.
Third flight of 5:
2004 FAUSTINO l GRAN RESERVA RIOJA- rich dark ruby color, lots of dark fruit forward notes in the aromatics and the taste mindful of Welch`s grape juice used for communion in my childhood days; I`d had that before in some wines and with Riojas, it came from Faustino bottlings so I guessed that was this bottle; it was full bodied, complex with layers of fruit unfolding which contributed to a long finish; a hit of heat came in late; we all had this toward the middle of the flight.
1998 LA RIOJA ALTA GRAN RESERVA RIOJA- no aging showing up in the color; the aromas and taste profile was redolent with spice, mint and eucalyptus to compliment the significant dollop of black fruit; it had decent texture and nice length and overall showed quite well; the group liked it enough to give it tops in the flight.
1995 ARTADI PAGOS VIEJOS RESERVA RIOJA- a pricy wine from a quality producer I have enjoyed over the past few years that unfortunately was badly corked.
1970 ALAVESES SOLAR de SAMANIEGO RESERVA RIOJA- 100% Tempranillo; light amber purple color; oaky, toasty nose with coffee and milk chocolate coming in and all are continued on past mid palate joining some dried black currant and dried figs flavors; it was medium bodied and had enough to finish things up nicely; consensus #4 in the flight.
1970 CUNE [CVNE] IMPERIAL GRAN RESERVA RIOJA- showing some age in the pale color, it showed up much more youthful in the taste profile with pleasant and surprisingly fresh red cherry notes that were embellished by some talc, coffee and vanilla; it was nicely balanced and had a wonderful silky texture; in a great place now and I scored it first in the flight; this and the 2005 Bosconia and 94` Roda l were my top WsOTN.
This was a grand evening with a few guests blending in well with some of the ole guard. It was righteously hosted and the wines showed well across the board. Blind tastings are always fun as well as being informative.