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Rioja

john-abel-in-rioja.jpg

Rioja is northern Spain's most famous wine region, divided into the subregions of Rioja Alta, where most of the top wineries are located; Rioja Alavesa; and Rioja Oriental. The vast majority of Rioja's production is red wine made primarily from the native Tempranillo grape, often blended with Garnacha, Mazuelo (aka Carignan), and Graciano. Traditionally, Rioja reds are categorized as either Crianza, Reserva, or Grand Reserva, representing (in that order) increasing time spent aging in barrel and bottle before release. The whites, usually made from Viura (aka Macabeo) grapes, are also sometimes aged in oak.

Hacienda Lopez de Haro 2015 Rioja Reserva 750ml

$27.74

From Spain's innovative Vintae project, this is a blend of tempranillo and graciano from terraced soils in the area of San Vicente de la Sonsierra, La Rioja. The nice thing about Rioja Reserva is the aging is all done for you. This has seen twenty months...

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La Rioja Alta 2011 Gran Reserva 904 750ml

$130.34

I usually prefer the 904 to the 890, but there will be no Gran Reserva 890 until the 2010 vintage (from the last vintage I tasted, 2005). So, the only one of the extended-aging Haro-style reds I tasted this time was the 2011 Gran Reserva 904, which had a...

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CUNE 2016 Rioja Reserva 750ml

$36.43

Opaque ruby. Oak-spiced red fruit preserves, candied rose, vanilla and a hint of cola on the highly perfumed nose. Seamless and broad on the palate, offering sweet raspberry, cherry-vanilla and mocha flavors that firm up slowly on the back half. Shows...

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Abel Mendoza 2017 Rioja Jarrarte 750ml

$45.13

The regular 2017 Jarrarte—produced with Tempranillo and matured in used oak barrels for 12 months—should not be confused with the younger and unoaked Maceración Carbónica. 2017 was super challenging and early, and the wine shows...

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Mitarte 2016 Rioja 750ml

$9.48

Colour: Cherry red with a blue rim which shows the wine´s youth. Medium high intensity, bright and clean.Aroma: Floral notes to start followed by ripe red fruit.Mouth: Intense flavour, velvety, meaty, with silky tannins that envelop...

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Abel Mendoza 2017 Rioja Seleccion Personal 750ml

$73.82

The 2017 Selección Personal is the selection of the best plot of Tempranillo that year, but in the last few years it tends to be from a 50-year-old vineyard called Marrarte-El Bardallo in the village of Labastida, with clay and limestone soils...

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Miguel Merino 2012 Reserva 750ml

$59.04

The creamy and ripe 2011 Reserva is a traditional Rioja produced with Tempranillo and 4% Graciano, ripe, balsamic and intense. The palate reveals abundant, slightly dusty and rustic tannins that should welcome some food. 6,668 bottles were filled in...

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Artuke 2018 Finca de los Locos 750ml

$49.47

The same as with most of the other 2016s, I caught the 2016 Finca de Los Locos in tank after its élevage as it was about to be bottled. This single vineyard is on a terrace of the Ebro River at only 120 meters in altitude, on sandy and gravel...

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La Rioja Alta 2014 Vina Arana Gran Reserva 750ml

$86.86

2012 was an unusual vintage in Rioja, as it was warm and dry, but the wines are fresher than those from 2011. Th 2012 Viña Arana Gran Reserva shows that character, as it's ripe and has concentration but is quite balanced. There are some creamy...

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La Rioja Alta 2015 Reserva Vina Alberdi 750ml

$45.13

The first wine in their portfolio is already at Reserva level (labeled Crianza in Spain...), of which I tasted the 2014 Viña Alberdi. 2014 was a challenging harvest with lots of rains, and they had to sort and select the grapes. The wine has...

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Contino 2017 Contino Blanco 750ml

$60.78

(malo in stainless steel tanks; aged for seven months in a 60/40 blend of stainless steel and French oak barrels of varying size) Limpid yellow. Vibrant Anjou pear and tangerine aromas show very good clarity and pick up suggestions of buttered toast,...

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Marques de Murrieta 2016 Rioja Reserva 750ml

$57.30

I also tasted an unbottled sample of the 2016 Rioja Reserva, which should be bottled in a couple of months, before the summer. What I tasted was the final blend, and it represents the year—2016 was a cooler year, and the wine also goes in that...

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