Castillo Labastida 2001 Rioja ($7.99)
This dark-garnet wine breathes typical Rioja aromas of ripe cherries and spice, backed by oaky vanilla and an appetizing whiff of orange peel. Medium-bodied on the palate, it offers simple fruit and oak in reasonable balance, with sufficient acidity for balance and food-friendliness. It's a bit light, a trifle short in the finish, but there's plenty to like here at a price that's right. US Importer: J & D Selections Inc. (Kysela), Winchester, Va. (Dec 12, 2003)
FOOD MATCH: Demonstrating Rioja's versatility with robust fare, it went very nicely with a leftover ration of mild Tex-Mex chili turned into pasta sauce. For a more traditional match, try lamb or beef.
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