2009 Rioja Wine Trade Tasting: 10 Wines Worth Noting

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I attended the Rioja Wine Trade Tasting at the Palace Hotel in San Francisco last Tuesday, sampling about 60 wines from almost 20 different producers. With so many wines to taste, I didn’t linger on any particular wine for too long, allowing my general impressions to be my guide, rather than attempt to dissect each wine for its secondary characteristics. Even at a brisk pace, it took me about four hours to work my way around the room.

I can say with confidence, however, that my favorite wine of the day was the 30th wine I tasted: the 2003 Tierra Antigua Reserva, which was a blend of 85% Tempranillo, 10% Graciano and 5% Mazuelo (this blending trio was extremely typical, although many wines featured Grenache, and many were also 100% Tempranillo). The Tierra Antigua exhibited an uncanny aroma of cocoa powder that yielded to sweet tobacco on the finish. I thought it was outstanding.

The producer of Tierra Antigua, Bodegas Vinicola Real, also had two other noteworthy offerings at their table, the 2004 200 Monges Reserva (85% Tempranillo, 10% Graciano, 5% Mazuelo) and the 2006 Cueva del Monge (100% Tempranillo). The bodega’s fourth bottling, the 2005 Viña Los Valles Crianza (70% Tempranillo, 30% Graciano), was certified organic and a nice bottle of wine, but it didn’t feature the character of the other three.

Below, I’ve listed seven other wines that I enjoyed, which round out my top ten. I’m not sure that any of these wines are currently imported to the United States, since this was one of the main reasons for the tasting itself. Still, any like-minded wine importer could conceivably bring these wines stateside in the near future. Let’s hope so:

2006 Ontañón Crianza (90% Tempranillo, 10% Grenache)

2008 Sonsierra (100% Tempranillo)

2005 Tobía Selección (85% Tempranillo, 15% others)

2008 Viña Tobía (100% Tempranillo)

2005 Evento de Castillo de Mendoza (100% Tempranillo)

2007 Clisos (100% Tempranillo)

2004 QP Vintage (80% Tempranillo, 17% Graciano, 3% Grenache)

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