A 2005 Rioja. Classy or Bust?

Tonight we travel back to Spain, as promised. This being a 2005, it’s the oldest wine I’ve had. Yeah, I know, it’s really not that old. I need to get out more.. or spend more money at the store. But a milestone is a milestone and here we are.

It’s a fairly standard blend: mostly Tempranillo (65%), with Garnacha taking up another 25%, and Graciano and Mazuelo rounding out the rest at 5% each.

It’s also a Crianza, so it spends a decent amount of time in Oak and in the bottle before release. This particular wine spend the better part of 2 years in American Oak and then 2 more years hanging out with its makers before being released into the wild.

In my experience with beer and barrels, many times the beer can end up thinner than the maker intended, so I was curious to see what the mouthfeel would be like in this wine. Although, I don’t know the intentions of the winemaker in this particular case.. Anywho it’s just something to think about.

Review!

 

R Lopez de Heredia – 2005 Vina Cubillo Crianza – 13.5% alc – Rioja, Spain – about $23

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I’m the type of person that is extremely influenced by expectations.

For example, I honestly was not expecting to like the movie “The Hangover.” Frankly, it looked stupid to me. However, when I finally got around to seeing it (on DVD no less because I didn’t want to spend the Million Dollars it takes to get into a movie theater to see a movie I wasn’t particularly interested in seeing) I LOVED IT. It was really funny. And I think I really only liked it as much as I did because I didn’t expect to like it at all, when in fact it was a pretty decent comedy by all accounts.

I have plenty of examples to illustrate the other side of the coin as well but we’ll leave them for another time.

I mention all this because I was very very excited to open this bottle. Due to my blooming love affair with Spanish reds and the fact this is the oldest wine I’ve tried thus far, my expectations were quite high. Also, I liked what I had read about it.

(Ed. note:  What Iain is getting at is that if he likes this wine, it must meet or exceed his high expectations.  When he says he is influenced by expectations, he truly means it.  Ask him about the movie Kick Ass.)

 

(Iain Note: As an aside, this has got to be one of the best bargains for the price if you consider the fact this is an 8/9 year old wine for $23.)

So I poured this thing into a glass. This wine started out almost burnt-orange and then became a deep, dark red as it filled the glass. The burnt-orange stuck around towards the outside of the glass. I’d like to think that attributes to the relative age of the wine.

Smelling it I got bright juicy red fruits, a slight sour note, tobacco, what I at first thought of as Cedar that then revealed itself to be that of a Cigarbox, and some spices. Pretty nice and tidy. Day 2 reveals much of the same.

I was kind of disappointed with the first sip, to be honest. It hit me hard with that sour note. I seriously got flashbacks to the last wine I reviewed. My stomach sank.

Then it occurred to me I may not have let it breathe as much as I needed to. It had really only been open 30-40 minutes. So I set the glass down, let the bottle breathe, and watched another episode of Supernatural before going back to it.

That made all the difference. This time, big cherry flavor, then sour and oak intermingling. Spices hit at the beginning and then very end of each sip. The balance of sweet, sour and oak is really nice. Nothing too forward. Nothing out of balance really.

Giving this even more time to breathe (this is especially true on the second evening spent with it), candied oranges and lemons and a slight hint of honey come in somewhere in the midpalate. This is certainly finely crafted.

It is, however, delicate. Put this next to some big Napa Cabs or even many Pinot Noirs and it’s barely a blip on the radar. Give this a night out alone and take your time with it. Get to know it. It’s really got a lot to say.

The mouthfeel is on the lighter side of medium (winemakers choice or all that time in oak?), but it definitely works here.

Finish is medium length with that cigarbox and red fruit carrying the load. The dryness will sneak up on you the more you drink, slowly enveloping the mouth.. all sneaky-like.

YES.

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