Archive for Tempranillo

Marques de Caceres Rioja!

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on February 5, 2010 by Julia


A few weeks ago,  I enjoyed a little fete with some girlfriends an an apartment in Fenway.  It was a fabulous evening chock full of Basil Martinis, spicy soup, apps and of course, VINO!  There were several wines tried that evening, but I’m going to stick with one in particular.  It’s a Rioja that I’ve seen around quite a bit.

Rioja wine is Spanish– it is made from grapes grown not only in the ‘Autonomous Community of La Rioja,’ but it can also be grown in parts of Navarre and the Basque province of Álava.  Rioja is further subdivided into three zones: Rioja Alavesa, Rioja Alta and Rioja Baja.  The wine in that region actually has much in common with a smooth Italian Chianti.  Both wines are blend relying heavily on one grape, in this case Tempranillo. Like Chianti’s Sangiovese, Tempranillo usually produces a relatively high acid wine of medium to medium-full body.  I couldn’t tell you what effect this has precisely on what you taste, but I can say it might be part of the reason that Rioja wines tend to vary a lot, even outside of vineyard and vintage.  Vintage references a year in which the grapes were harvested.  There is often consensus about different grapes and their respective “good years.”  Apparently the Rioja wines were quite good in 2005.  One more thing to note on this bottle, the word “Crianza”.  “Crianza,” (pronounced “Cree-ahn-zah,”) comes from the Spanish word for “nursing” or “bringing up.”  Its definition is a bit fuzzy, as the specifics change among different Spanish wine regions. But it’s safe to say that “Crianza” on the label guarantees that the wine has been aged (“brought up”) for a legally defined time before it can be sold; and that a significant part of that aging occurred in oak casks.  Crianzas are not released until two years after the vintage, of which at least six months must have been spent in 225-liter oak casks (“barricas” in Spanish, a relative of the more familiar “barriques” in French). In Rioja and Ribera del Duero, the rule is 12 full months in oak, plus at least 12 more in bottles.  This may seem like a long time in barrels, but in Spain, where oak aging is traditional, Crianzas are actually in the least-oaked category – you’ll need to look for “Riserva” or “Gran Riserva” if you want still more.

Continue reading