Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Old School Rioja - Ramirez de la Piscina Crianza '06

Yes I've touted Spanish bargains on these pages and their are many of them for 8 or 9 bucks. But when you want to step up a bit and experience more traditionally styled, more complex Spanish wine for not too much money, here's one to look for. Made by Ramirez de la Piscina this Crianza Rioja (for me) is what Spanish wine is all about. The first known reference to it goes all the way back to to 873 AD and later it was officially recognized by a Spanish king in the 12 century. Tempranillo is the main grape of Rioja and it can be blended with Garnacha (Grenache), Graciano and Mazuela in varying amounts. The Crianza designation means that the wine was aged for 2 years with at least six months in oak barrels. This traditional Rioja has a particular smokey element in the nose. Some call it tobacco or cigar box. But whatever you call it, it's beautiful. Add to that the cherryish and blackberry like fruit, a subtle note of leather, good medium body and a slightly tannic but long, spicy finish and it all adds up to a wonderful wine for not too much money. We enjoyed it with an Italian lamb stew with fresh kale from our garden. This beauty set me back $14.99. It's imported by Tempranillo (yes, same name as the grape). Cheers.

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