07/11/2010 – Duque de Castilla, Tempranillo Crianza 2006

Duque de Castilla, Tempranillo Crianza 2006, Spain
When is a half-price wine not a half-price wine? There are so many so-called ‘bargain’ half-price wines around that are nothing of the sort: the vast majority are special offers concocted by the supermarkets and their suppliers, made specifically to be sold at the lower price, so having exactly the quality you’d expect the lower price. What’s the story here? Well, there’s something going on as this is a 2006 ‘Crianza’, meaning it spent a year in barrel at most, so would ordinarily have hit the market early in 2008. The fact we are now almost three years on from that might be significant. It’s a Rioja-lookalike wine from the far less glamorous appellation of Valdepenas, and though I was half expecting a rather tired, over-wooded and old-fashioned wine, in fact I was pleasantly surprised by the ripe, juicy plum and black berry fruit on the nose, with just smoky whisp of tobaccoey oak. On the palate it is firm and juicy too, the tight tannins and crisp acidity giving a nice food-friendly edge, and the spice and hint of chocolate from the barrels just filling in on the end. It is perhaps a shade lean on the mid-palate, but still it is a very attractive bottle at 4.99 and your mates might just think you’ve splashed out a tenner on a classy Rioja when they see the mesh-covered bottle. £9.99, SPAR, on offer at £4.99 until 17th November 2010.