A Couple of Classics.
To Charm the Palate if not the Wallet
Marques de Riscal Gran Reserva Rioja (DOC) 2011, 14.5%, €44.95 Bradley’s Cork
Colour is a dark ruby. Aromas are a rich mix of dark fruits (plums etc). Rich fruit too on the palate, no shortage of spice, polished tannins in play too, all adding t a pleasurable harmony from initial attack to the slow-fading notes of the long finish. Full bodied with a velvety power, this is one to savour, slowly. Very Highly Recommended.
Riscal, who up to the middle of the previous century were synonymous with Bordeaux style wines in Rioja, are a large company. Sometimes they are better known for their Frank Gehry designed hotel in the vineyard.
In some ways, the hotel has helped wine-lovers re-discover the Riscal wines, according to the “The Finest Wines of Spain”. And this Gran Reserva is one of their finest. Quantities are relatively small but “it has all the subtle appeal of delicate, traditional Gran Reserva aged in old American oak”.
By the way, the Gran Reserva wines age in a huge vault directly beneath the hotel’s lobby. Other wines of note from this producer include Proximo, and Baron de Chirel along with the 100% Tempranillo, the Frank Gehry Seleccion, named for the famous architect.
Most Rioja reds will have spent some time in oak. Check out the various designations below:
The green label (cosecha) indicates less than one year in oak, less than one in bottle.
The red label (crianza) indicates 1 year in oak, 1 in bottle.
The burgundy (reserva) indicates 1 year in oak, 2 in bottle.
The royal blue (gran reserva) indicates 2 years in oak, three years in bottle.
Masi Costasera Amarone Classico (DOCG) 2013, 15%, about €39.95, Bradley’s Cork.
This is often referred to as Masi’s gentle giant, a benchmark for the Amarone category. It is indeed excellent and Very Highly Recommended.
It is a dark ruby colour. Ripe rich fruit on the nose, plums and cherries mainly. Rich and concentrated fruit flavours follow, a touch of sweet spice and smooth tannins all combine in this complex yet elegant wine. Generous too, a sip will give you a lot, including a long and satisfying dry finish.
It is a blend of the usual three grapes, Corvina (70%), Rondinella (25%) and Molinara (5%). The vines grow on slopes close to Lake Garda. The grapes are laid out on bamboo racks to concentrate their aromas during the winter months in a process that is called appassimento, a method that goes back to Roman times. For a few paragraphs on appassimento, check here.
Masi are “one of the great entrepreneurs of Italian wine,” according to The Modern History of Italian Wine and they are well known for using techniques, such as appassimento, that enhance the flavour and concentration of their wines.
Excellent as an after-dinner wine, or pair with red meat, game, and richly flavoured dishes.