Suzanne arranged for an excellent dinner at Txikito in Chelsea last night. Theme was “Spanish”, but turned into almost all Rioja. We had a nice room to ourselves, with pleasant service and excellent food. The restaurant is a find.
We started with a few pintxos (snacks): croquettes, Serrano ham and anchovy, pork loin with tetilla.
White Rioja Flight
1985 Marques de Murrieta Rioja
I thought there was a Reserva seal on back, but someone said just basic white. Quite oxidized, with some dirty odors to boot. C-
1989 Marques de Murrieta Rioja Reserva
Again some oxidative notes, but more in line with what I expect from old white Rioja. Nuts, generous lemon fruit, coffee beans. Better with some air. B
2000 Lopez de Heredia Tondonia Rosado Gran Reserva
I liked more than neighbors. Pretty classic LdH rose. Citrus peel, onion skin, nuts, strawberries. B+
Next dish was amazing -king oyster mushroom carpaccio, with crumbled Roncal & Marcona almonds. Not sure I would have guessed mushroom if I hadn’t know, but delicious
There was also a nice stuffed pepper.
On to the Reds. First flight was a pair of beauties, with distinctly different styles.
1964 Riojanos Monte Real Rioja Reserva
Powerful, full, rich, shockingly young red fruit, with a spicy anise edge. A-
1964 Gomez Cruzado Rioja Gran Reserva Honorable
Light and elegant, weightless, with an exotic nose that reminded me of “Russian tea” (a 1970s concoction of Tang, cloves, cinnamon) in a good way. A-
Next dish was shrimp and ham in a squid ink sauce
1976 CVNE Imperial Rioja Gran Reserva
Focused, long, smoky, great texture. A-/B+
1978 Marques de Murrieta Ygay Gran Reserva Especial
Rich, earthy, young, very good. B+
Some nicely flavored lamb
1985 Lopez de Heredia Tondonia Gran Reserva
Elegant, very herby, seems to be drinking well. B+
1987 Lopez de Heredia Bosconia Gran Reserva
Has more in reserve than the ‘85 Tondonia, well-balanced, spicy, long. B+/A-
Last savory course was great suckling pig on a chimichurri sauce
90s- this was the brett flight, with a little leather in the Bosconia, some noticable barnyard in the Tondonia, and the Val Sotillo just within my tolerance limits.
1991 Lopez de Heredia Bosconia Gran Reserva
Saddle leather, forest floor, beautiful red fruits, a bit “Burgundian.” A-/B+
1991 Lopez de Heredia Tondonia Gran Reserva
High toned, some barnyard, solid structure. B+
1994 Ismael Arroyo Val Sotillo Gran Reserva (Ribera del Duero)
Noticable brett, but not too much for me, raspberry and cherry, feels fully mature. B+/B
Nano brought out a bonus bottle
Ripe, fruit driven, soft, getting a tiny bit clipped, but tasty wine. B
Really successful night, except for the 1985 white I’d happily drink any of these.
Grade disclaimer: I'm a very easy grader, basically A is an excellent wine, B a good wine, C mediocre. Anything below C means I wouldn't drink at a party where it was only choice. Furthermore, I offer no promises of objectivity, accuracy, and certainly not of consistency.