Preface: a short note about my wine notes
After giving considerable thought to the matter, I’ve decided not to give points to the wines I like. I realize that numerical ratings drive the wine trade today but find it impossible to benchmark the wines I like against a hypothetical 100-point ideal. Maybe in the future I’ll rate the wines by “smiles” or raised eyebrows but for now, if I write about it, you know I like it!
As a matter of fact, a statistical analysis of eight wine guides in Spain done several years ago by the business school at the University of La Rioja proved that there was very little correlation between the guides, leading the authors to conclude that wine guides are not a reliable means of assessing quality.
With that in mind, what I aim to do is describe the wines I’ve enjoyed, in most cases in the context of the meal I ate. I’ll also give you some information about how to find it locally, usually a website.
I bought a case of this wine last year after visiting the winery with a group of friends to celebrate a birthday. It was interesting not only because of how it tasted at the time but because garnacha in Rioja Alta is a rarity, and old vine garnacha even more so. This variety was predominant in Rioja at one time, especially in Rioja Baja, but most of it was pulled up and replanted to the easier-to-cultivate, higher yielding tempranillo. Today, it represents only about 6,500 hectares out of 60,000 hectares of red varieties in Rioja, with most vines located in Rioja Baja where it’s used mainly to produce rosé. Most old vine garnacha is located further east in the Ebro valley, where wine regions like Calatayud and Campo de Borja are successfully selling it in the UK and the USA.
In Rioja there’s been a resurgence of garnacha in recent years, that I applaud, as wineries are looking for compexity in blends in the face of a trend towards 100% tempranillos. As long as the vineyards aren’t overfarmed, I believe that garnacha from Rioja is capable of rivaling anything produced in Châteauneuf-du-Pape!
light garnet, aromas of strawberry jam, Mediterranean hillside herbs with a hint of oak, relatively high acidity, alcohol (14%) not apparent, medium tannin, well balanced with a long finish.
We felt that the wine had reached its peak but was drinking well.
We enjoyed it last Saturday with a meal of pork chops with green peppers smothered in tomato soup with sliced potatoes roasted in the oven (patatas panadera). I thought it was a good match.
Bodegas Fin de Siglo, 26311 Arenzana de Abajo (La Rioja)