Our second Rioja tasting provided an opportunity to sample 12 reservas – aged for at least three years, with at least one year spent in oak, writes Ernie Whalley. Originally French oak barrels were exclusively employed but economics eventually dictated that American oak staves were imported and fashioned into casks in Spanish cooperages. Latterly, many producers have gone back to using French oak, or a mix of French and American. Long aging before release became a tradition – the Marques de Murrieta bodega only released its 1942 Gran Reserva in 1983! Nowadays wines are made for earlier drinking although “ We age the wine so you don’t need to” is still a USP. Most of you will have spent €24 on a bottle of wine – in a restaurant and I bet the wine was no great shakes. I’d urge you to consider, even if as a once-off treat, buying one of these beauties. Martin and I concurred that no red from Bordeaux or Burgundy at equivalent price would come close.
Lindes de Remelluri 2009 €21.95 Next Door@Myles Creek, KIlkee, Co Clare; MacGuinness, Dundalk, Co Louth. GOLD
EW: A great balancing act, a carefully trod line between modern and classical styles. Cutting barrel aging to 12 months has helped produce a graceful satisfying wine with abundant fruit. Nuances of spice, figs, plums and blackberries.
MM: Very classy drop with attractive black fruit, plum and fig with subtle oak use. Satisfyingly rich yet fresh palate that makes it all too easy to drink.
Ijalba Reserva 2007 19.95 www.quintessentialwines.ie, Drogheda, Co Louth and nationwide SILVER
EW: Rounded, soft single estate grown fruit; cherries, soft plums raisins and a touch of blackcurrant with subtle ‘garrigue’ wild herbal notes coming in right at the back end. Well-developed, stylish wine. Organic.
MM: Spain’s answer to Chateauneuf-du-Pape with its rich soft slight raisiny style with no single fruit character dominating. Striking label.
Remelluri Reserva 2008 www.64wine.ie, Glasthule, Co Dublin;, www.redmondsofranelagh.ie, D6; Black Pig, D4; ; www.dalysdrinks.com, Boyle, Co Roscommon; McCambridges, Galway; www.. Wicklowwineco.ie; Next Door@Myles Creek, KIlkee, Co Clare; SILVER
EW: Old fashioned, classical kit from Rioja’s oldest estate. Oak and fruit perfectly integrated. Fantastic persistence, goes on and on. Save the second half of the bottle for when the others have gone home and savour in your favourite chair.
MM: Not flashy or obvious but quietly delicious as it sails serenely across the palate offering a satisfying richness and terrific persistence.
Marques de Murrieta Reserva 2007 Finca Ygay, around €24 Vintry, Rathgar D6; www.obrienswine.ie, nationwide; www.redmondsofranelagh.com, D6 GOLD
EW: Massively rich wine, regal in its power and majesty. Lots of concentration and kaleidoscopic nuances of aroma and flavour but everything perfectly integrated. Seems strange to talk of a €24 wine as ‘outstanding value for money’ but here it is.
MM: Hits the bulls eye with its great richness and persistence and all sorts of nuance of flavour including plum, raisin, coconut, vanilla and liquorice. Fantastic value compared to French classics.