Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Rioja Blind Tasting Results

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Way back in August, I blogged about the possibility of holding a blind Rioja tasting with a few special friends in my home. Well, on November 19th, it went down. Eight of us sampled and then drank 13 leading Rioja Reservas from 2001 and back, plus a few ringers. The lineup included, in vintage order:

2002 Ridge Geyserville (ringer)
2001 Rondan Reserva
2001 Marques de Riscal Reserva
2001 Lopez de Heredia Viña Bosconia Reserva
2000 Lopez de Heredia Viña Bosconia Reserva
2000 Izadi Seleccion (semi-ringer)
2000 La Rioja Alta Viña Ardanza Reserva
1999 Martinez Lacuestra Campeador Reserva
1999 Conde de Jauregui Reserva
1998 Marques de Murrieta Ygay Reserva
1998 Manuel Quintano Reserva
1997 Porta dos Cavaleiros Reserva, Dao (ringer)
1997 La Rioja Alta Gran Reserva 904 (semi-ringer)

As you would suspect, this roomful of geeks had some serious smiles on their faces. All wines performed brilliantly, and went down nicely with Deborah’s paella. Only the Izadi and the Manuel Quintano were new-worldish and unappealing to a few folks. The two full-blown ringers were sniffed out by all, and in addition to this lineup, 2 obscure Italian reds, 1 Mosel Riesling and 1 bottle of artisanal sweet vermouth were consumed. Of the Reservas, the favorite was clearly the ‘01 Lopez, with its Burgundian restraint and distinctive clayey/animal/earthy traits. This was followed by ’98 Murrieta, which was stubborn and angular at first but unfolded into a classically maderized and aromatic Tempranillo with notes of lilac, flowers and pepper. A close third goes to Viña Ardanza, which, as expected, was focused and exceptionally-textured, but perhaps a bit undeveloped for now.

Great job to everyone who attended. Thank you for your generous contributions. It was a late night of hedonistic indulgence and inspired conversation. Next time it’s Gran Reservas!
-Michael Koehler
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