(2022) Tempranillo, aged in American oak casks for 14 months, this is deep in colour and aroma, with plenty of sweet vanilla fudge and tobacco spice over ripe, black fruit. It's a crowd-pleaser this, the palate polished and core of oak-smoothed fruit barely ruffled by sandy fine tannins and negligible acidity. You could certainly accuse this of being a bit obvious, of being a melange of ripe fruit and oak with no particular terroir character, but that would kind of miss the point of an inexpensive (and no doubt regularly discounted) supermarket red.
(2022) The wines from the CompaÃ±Ãa VinÃcola del Norte de EspaÃ±a remain classical in structure. This very young Rioja Reserva in their Cune range is a just a tiny bit uncompromising at the moment, so drink with food or cellar for a few years to enjoy at its best. It is a lovely wine: around 85% Tempranillo, aged 24 months in a combination of French oak (partly new barrels) and American barrels. There's an immediate firmness to this densely coloured wine, black cherry and polished wood, but taut and muscular on the nose. In the mouth there is real succulence - like biting into a bittersweet ripe plum, cherry again, and dark, nutty toast and tobacco spices. Acid, fruit and oak are beautifully done and this will surely cellar for a decade. Â£12.99 on a 'mixed six' deal at Majestic. Watch the video for more information.
(2022) Bloodiness and gamy notes to the nose here, a dry earthy minerality over the tobacco-infused red fruit. The palate is very dry, very savoury. There's a brightness to the acidity and leanness to the tannins, it is spicy and a touch leathery too. Quite a serious gastronomic style that needs food. I wondered if the slight lack of fruit indicated this sample was not 100% sound.
(2022) From Rioja Alta and vineyards at 450 - 590 metres, just a touch of wood. Dark crimson, quite meaty but at the same time a little aromatic, some lifted floral notes and keen blue/black fruit. Lovely sweet fruit and ripeness, roundness on the palate, fruit to the fore but plush and mouth-filling, a sense of minerality and purity that is lovely.
(2021) This spent a years in predominantly French oak barrels, but now at five years old we have a delightfully mature Rioja Reserva at a very attractive price. There's a soulful melange of game, tobacco, vanilla and deep blackberry fruit on the nose, a touch of mahogany on the rim adding the impression of a developed, but still very much together wine. In the mouth delightfully ripe, plush and sweet fruit will delight lovers of classic Rioja, with all the velvetty and caressing depth you could hope for. There's plenty of cappuccino-like roast and creamy sweetness, offset by gentle but firm tannins and very good acidity. A cracking buy, watch the video for more information and food-matching ideas.
(2021) RamÃ³n Bilbao is a big producer, with 200 hectares of its own vineyards around the town of Haro in Rioja, but contracting fruit from another 900 hectares of vineyard across the region. This Crianza was aged in American oak casks for 14 months. It is deep crimson in colour and has an appealing nose, mixing dark berry fruits with spicy cedar and a touch of mint and vanilla. In the mouth there is real juiciness to the blackcurrant and plum fruit, but the bolstering underpinning of those oak tannins and spices gives it great savouriness. Well balanced, it's a fairly big wine in flavour and alcohol (14%) but very well done.
(2021) From grapes grown at 600-metres altitude, RamÃ³n Bilbao says this new wine represents a conscious step towards increasing their organic output. A blend of Tempranillo and Garnacha, it is dry, spicy and savoury, with a little tobacco, herbs and dark fruits. On the palate it is a farily light and brisk style of Rioja, a little vanilla, green olive and cedar filling out the finish, with gentle but firm tannins and acidity into an easy-drinking finish. Watch the video for more information.
(2020) This is a modern, taut and muscular style of Rioja, not the vanilla and coconunt softness of an aged traditional reserva, but instead a wine of bitter cherry and plum, a twist of liquorice and lift of kirsch on the nose, the palate firm, tannic and savoury, a rasp of plum skin roughness to add some rustic bite and the smooth black fruits always in that context. I might decant this for an hour or two, a wine with a bit of brawny, sinewy structure as well as fruit.
(2020) Daniel describes this as coming from a "Stunning single vineyard and family run property in the heart of Rioja Alavesa." Made from 100% Tempranillo, it spends 12 months in barrels, 60% French and 40% American oak. There's a sweet, solid black cherry sheen to the aromatics, a smoothing laer of creamy dark polished wood, and a lovely hint of tobacco spice. In the mouth quite delicious: the sweet black fruit surges across the palate, but again the whole picture smoothed by the creaminess of the oak and fine-grained tannins, balanced and long. Really lovely.
(2020) A total of 971 barrels of this wine were made, with Tempranillo from old vines in RamÃ³n Bilbao's highest vineyards in Rioja Alta, situated at over 700 metres above sea level. It spent 14 months in a combination of French and American oak and is a big mouthful of wine: opulent with rich, chocolaty berry fruit, tobacco and exotic and musky spices, it's that intensity of blackcurrant and mint fruit that drives through. Joining it on the palate are suede-like creamy tannins and well balanced cherry acidity, giving light and shade to the wine, so the finish is spicy and fruity, but fresh too. Modern but substantial. Note that some retailers have moved on to the highly-regarded 2016 vintage already. Watch the video for more information and food-matching ideas.