Tag Archives: Red wine

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.



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


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.



First review(s). It’s a Two-fer.


So to kick things off we have a YES and a NO. You know, just to get into the swing of things and get an idea for format or whatever.


A little bit of background for the first wine we’re about to take a look at..



There’s so much variety winemakers are able to achieve from this…variety… of grape. The range of flavors can be astounding. It’s no wonder a lot of people that are really into wine love rieslings.

There can be a lot to like, and there can, of course, be a lot to not like. Sometimes the petrol notes can get a little overwhelming. Or the dryness can get in the way of the overall balance. For me, I like a riesling with a nice balance between acidity and sweetness and a nice evolving chemistry between different flavors.

This is kind of where I get burned when reading reviews of Rieslings. Many of the top-reviewed, highly-scored Rieslings are a little too dry for me or have too much petrol or minerality going on. I like the peach/apricot/pear flavors to be a little more pronounced.

Riesling to me means Germany. And Mosel. (I love some of the stuff coming out of Ohio too… looking at you Chalet Debonne.) Dr Loosen really knows how to make a Riesling. Work your way through the entry level for about $10 and you’ll see what I mean. But the one I’m about to talk about is a Spatlese release. These Rieslings are a later harvest and usually sweeter wine than something like a Kabinett. Read up on Rieslings. It’s a good time. On to the wine!


Dr. Loosen – 2011 Wehlener Sonnenuhr Rieslings Spatlese – 8.0% Alc – Mosel, Germany – About $30


The nice thing about white wines is you don’t have to give them a lot of time to open up. You just open them and BAM! They’re ready to go. This one is no exception. Overall, my girlfriend and I drank it over a 3 night span. There was no significant drop off or evolution between night one and night two, but it started to fall a bit by night three. Not a big deal but something to keep in mind. Served chilled from our fridge. 

The first thing that hit me when I took a whiff was petrol and rock. A few seconds later and a few more whiffs brought about some of my favorite things about this wine. THE FRUITS! Apricot! Peach! Pears leaping from the glass! Then an almost Creme Brulee/burnt caramel/cream kind of thing. That’s the stuff. Pretty wonderful.

The taste was more of the same, minus the petrol/minerals, plus a really awesome lactic sour note to balance the sweetness. I’m sure the petrol/minteral qualities were there.. somewhere. But it was damn hard to pick those out under the fruit and cream and sour then sweet. Every sip brought a different flavor. A different sensation. From start of the sip through the finish. Just tasty tasty stuff. Flavor and nuances for days.

Worth the price? Yeah. Taste good? Check! 

In a word, this guy’s a YES.


Now for Part 2 of the post. Sha-Bam-Bam.

I’ve heard a lot about the big, bold, full-bodied red wines of Douro. So I found one, supposedly. For reds, I’d usually go for something from Spain.. or Argentina. But I was feeling frisky, so here we are. I guess there’s not a lot else to say here so let’s talk about what we have.


Post Scriptum – De Chryseia 2010 – Red Blend – Douro, Portugal – 13% Alc. – About $20


We let it breathe for a little over half an hour before helping ourselves. Very deep, dark violet. Do I smell Oak? Yeah. A lot of it. It’s kind of hiding the dark fruits. Blueberries are the big one. But there’s so much heat it’s pretty difficult to get much else. There’s an interesting savory quality though. Almost like a steak on the BBQ. Makes me hungry for an actual steak. And that might give way to some other flavors from this glass, but I don’t usually pair a lot of wine and food. (Not like I’m against it but it just doesn’t happen often.) 

Right now I’m on day 2 of the bottle. Day 2 brings licorice on the nose. Pretty cool, but is it enough to save it?

Tasting it, the dark fruits come to play first. Then we get the oak/savory qualities. The finish evokes some dark chocolate which is pretty cool (and the licorice hits on the finish on day 2). There’s nice grip actually, but then there’s that heat coming out again. The balance is close but a little off kilter. Another sip and “hello again, Oak.” This guy shakes your hand every time you see him, even if you just talked to him 5 seconds ago.

Is it worth $20? Almost. But not quite. Nice complexity, but the heat is too much. Do I like it? Almost. But not quite. It’s pretty good, but I wouldn’t give it another go.

Unfortunately here, I’m gonna have to go with NO.