Browse Tag

center-north spain


R. López de Heredia 1981 Rioja Viña Tondonia Gran Reserva (Center-North) – Gorgeous old fruit aromatics of windowsill-cooled summer pie, wooden spice box, and soft suggestions of earth glide from the glass, but this is no fading beauty. On the contrary, the palate is fulsome and almost lush, with well-aged but still vibrant red fruit, more than a few hints of spice, and a great purity of texture. The acidity is strong enough that those who fear it will wish to take care, but otherwise it’s an exciting counterpoint to the suppleness of the balance of the wine. Mature, for sure, but probably nowhere close to decline. (11/09)

Bosco P. Coltrane

R. López de Heredia 1981 Rioja Viña Bosconia Gran Reserva (Center-North) – Faded, antiqued red fruit – the lightest possible – with the sepia patina of age and a gritty, starting-to-disconnect texture. A fine-edged tannin scrapes, slowly, across the thin surface. The aromatics are lightly earthen and quite beautiful, but the palate is a bit tired and gasping. It’s a good wine, still, but I’d consider drinking it posthaste. (11/09)

Our kelly

R. López de Heredia 1997 Rioja “Gran Reserva” Viña Tondonia Rosado (Center-North) – Restrained. Very restrained. The bony, exposed-wrinkle structure of this wine…so unique among rosés…is a little more stretched than usual here. Even for Tondonia Rosado, this is bare and stark. There’s that skeletal minerality and steady-state, bell-tone fruit that tastes more like the desert in which one will either find appeal or not (I do), but the wine’s just…well, “tired” isn’t quite right, because it’s not faded beyond its intended form. Perhaps the best way to describe the wine is that it’s afflicted with a very slight pallor. (11/09)

Peciña cheeks

Señorio de P. Peciña 2003 Rioja Crianza (Center-North) – I have struggled for several years now with the delta between my friends’ enthusiasm for these wines and my lack thereof, whether tasted there, here, or anywhere. This is the first bottle I’ve actually enjoyed enough to express enthusiasm for, though it comes with baggage (note the vintage) and the price that baggage demands: excessive heaviness and tannin that might, in the end, be unresolvable. Otherwise, the deep, not-quite-gelatinous fruit is extremely appealing, and manages to retain a sense of humor about itself even as all around it is drooping like a Dalí clock. (1/12)


R. López de Heredia 2001 Rioja Viña Gravonia Bianco (Center-North) – I have never liked a Viña Gravonia Bianco less than I like this one, which tastes like over-aged California chardonnay in its stale wood, grossly lactic, browned butter way. I hope it’s an issue with the bottle and not the wine, or maybe it just needs to age and oxidize more for me to enjoy it, but I go back again and again to the wine in disbelief that I dislike it so much, thus drinking a lot more of a wine I don’t enjoy than I would usually consider drinking. Such is the reputation of the producer, in my mind. (9/11)

The shoe is on the other barrel

Muga 1998 Rioja Gran Reserva “Prado Enea” (Center-North Spain) – People argue about the woodiness of this wine, and while it would be ludicrous to say it’s not heavily laden with coconutty, lightly-tanned wood, what makes the oak so obvious isn’t so much its quantity as its flashy upfront-ness, like a dish with just a few dashes too much of a freshly-ground and overly-aggressive peppercorn. There’s plenty else to note and like, including lush red fruit of the baked variety, apple-ish acidity, and dusty brown soil. And experience indicates that this wood will integrate…to a point. Look, it’s (quasi) traditional Rioja; there will be blood wood. I guess my conclusion, meandering though the path to it has been, is that I can’t really criticize this wine too much for being what it claims to be. It is, to be sure, nowhere near the frightening Torre Muga horror show. (6/11)

Shall we begin? Edulis-a.

Altanza “Edulis” 2005 Rioja (Center-North Spain) – By-the-numbers Rioja in the modern style, though not overdone. Reddish fruit, vanilla, a lot of weight and heft without much content other than the obvious, easily skimmable, table of Rioja contents. (6/11)

R. Kelly

R. López de Heredia 2000 Rioja Reserva Viña Bosconia (Center-North Spain) – Not, I think, the best Bosconia of my lifetime. That said, it’s still compelling enough, gentling into its soft, tanned redness enveloped by old wood, then fading away to show its smooth, polished bones. It should be noted that my dining companions, who have never tasted an LdH of any vintage or designation, are utterly fascinated by the wine. So those of less jaded palates may enjoy this more than I do…though I do enjoy it. (9/10)

Hermanso’s hermits

Hermanso Peciña “Señorío de P. Peciña” 2001 Rioja Reserva (Center-North Spain) – Sunburned red fruit, a little desiccated, with an astringent oak character. There’s good succulence, fair enough acidity, and yet…I don’t know. I think my tastes have moved away from Rioja, and the perpetual exception I make for LdH doesn’t really disabuse me of this notion. I’ve long known that I didn’t much like the ultra-fruited modern style, but this is a perfectly acceptable expression of an alternative style and my reaction is still pretty much indifference. Yes, reading this note was probably a waste of your time. (1/11)

Ley me down

Sin-Ley “Traza” 2007 Rioja (Center-North Spain) – 100% graciano. There are so many styles of and takes on Rioja that it’s hard to say if this “tastes like” Rioja or not. So, on its merits as a red wine of indeterminate origin: it dances, alive and full of energy. There’s spice, light tan minerality, enveloping presence without weight, and a lot of fun red fruit drenched with sunlight. An extraordinary amount of fun, this wine is. (1/11)