A message from Wine Library Bacio Divino Pazzo 2005 is an innovative red blend from Napa that earned a 91-point review from Robert Parker. Just $24.98 per bottle on sale at Wine Library today!
In This Issue
Wine Focus - Rioja, red and white We're looking at the wines of Rioja - primarily the region's trademark reds but also its less-familiar whites, in this month's Wine Focus.
Wine Focus - Rioja, red and white
In recent years, the wines of Spain have to a degree gone off in separate directions. Spain has come to be known for its modestly priced, delicious reds (such as the Monastrell of Jumilla) and whites (like the Albariño of Galicia. At the same time, Spain also turns up in the sought-after trophy-wine department with big reds from Priorat and Ribera del Duero.
Somewhat lost in the rush, it seems to me, is the wine region that - not so long ago - stood for most of us as the trademark wine of Spain. Located in northern Spain at the edge of Basque country along the Ebro River (and reportedly named after its tributary, the Rio Oja), Rioja's high plain is protected from cold Atlantic winds by the Sierra Cantabria mountains to its north, ensuring a cool, protected climate for viticulture.
Rioja is the traditional home of the Tempranillo grape, but the red wine is typically a Tempranillo-dominated blend. Today's featured wine, for instance, Muga 2004 Rioja Reserva (tasting notes below) is a typical blend of 70 percent Tempranillo, 20 percent Garnacha, and the remainder a mix of Mazuelo and Graciano. One winery, Marques de Riscal, has special permission to use Cabernet Sauvignon in its blend.
In fact, there's a strong thread of French heritage in this otherwise very Spanish wine. In the middle of the 19th century, French merchants came to Rioja in search of exports when powdery mildew threatened French vineyards; the cycle repeated itself a decade later when the phylloxera louse devastated the vines of France. (Phylloxera eventually came to Rioja, but not until the early 20th century, by which time vine growers had learned to combat the plague with New World rootstock.)
We're looking at the wines of Rioja - primarily the region's trademark reds but also its less-familiar whites, in this month's Wine Focus.
It's simple to participate in Wine Focus. Taste a Rioja, or several, and take notes. Then click to our Wine Focus forum in our WineLovers Discussion Groups with your tasting report, comments and questions:
The discussions are open for public viewing, but you must register to post. Registration is free and easy; we ask only that you join following our Real Names Real Format system, using your real name in the format "John Doe" or "John D".
Once your registration has been approved, which usually happens quickly, you'll be able to participate in all our online wine, food and travel forums.
Today's Sponsor: A message from Wine Library
Are you on Wine Library's e-mail service? If not, you are missing out on the hottest new 90+ pointers at rock bottom prices! Log on to winelibrary.com to sign up for our daily offering or weekly recap today!
One highly rated wine you may have missed: Bacio Divino Pazzo 2005, an innovative red blend from Napa that earned a 91 point review Robert Parker of The Wine Advocate. Fans of Orin Swift The Prisoner and other creative red blends will love this! Just $24.98 per bottle on sale at Wine Library, this fragrant, supple wine was one of our favorite Napa reds of 2008! Log on to place your order today... Click here for details!
You may have seen us featured in GQ Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, New Jersey Monthly, and elsewhere. Wine Library features a huge collection of top wines from around the world, great gifts and accessories, a popular daily video blog (Wine Library TV), a wide selection of futures, and much, much more!
Bottom line, we offer the lowest prices, the largest selection, lightning fast shipments and the greatest customer service in the industry! Winelibrary.com is your one-stop shop for everything wine... so what are you waiting for? Log on to winelibrary.com today!
Muga 2004 Rioja Reserva ($28.99)
Labeled "unfiltered," it's a very dark ruby color almost all the way to the violet edge. A bunch of juicy cherries in the aroma, with back notes of earth and just a hint of fragrant black pepper. Cherries on the palate add a whiff of vanilla; crisp acidity and smooth but mouth-coating tannins. Very young for a Reserva, still quite "primary," it will reward years of cellar time. Still, it's enjoyable now, particularly with bold red-meat flavors on the table, and carries its 14% alcohol well. U.S. importer: Cutting Edge Selections Inc., Fairfax, Ohio; from Jorge Ordoñez. (Jan. 3, 2009)
FOOD MATCH: As noted, young Rioja is a red-meat wine. It was fine with a hearty winter dish of lamb and white beans.
VALUE: Public attention has moved quality Rioja well above the budget rank it held years ago, but in fairness, under $30 is quite reasonable for a cellarworthy wine of this character. Also, shop around, as some U.S. vendors offer it in the lower $20 range.
WHEN TO DRINK: As noted, its "primary" fruit makes it enjoyable for drinking now with a good food match, but it will reward a decade or more of cellar time with considerably more complexity.
The Muga Website is available in Spanish and English. Here's a fact sheet in English on the 2004 Rioja Reserva:
FIND THIS WINE ONLINE:
Find vendors and compare prices for Muga Rioja Reserva on Wine-Searcher.com:
Talk About Wine Online
If you have questions, comments or ideas to share about today's article
or wine in general, you're always welcome to drop by our online WineLovers Discussion Group. This link will take you to the forum home page, where you can read discussions in all the forum sections:
Everyone is free to browse. If you'd like to post a comment, question or reply, you must register, but registration is free and easy. Do take care to register using your real name, or as a minimum, your real first name and last initial. Anonymous registrations are quietly discarded.
To contact me by E-mail, write firstname.lastname@example.org. I'll respond personally to the extent that time and volume permit.
PRINT OUT TODAY'S ARTICLE
Here's a simply formatted copy of today's Wine Advisor, designed to be printed out for your scrapbook or file or downloaded to your PDA or other wireless device.