Marques de Riscal Reserva Rioja 2014  £17.95

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Marqués de Riscal Reserva wines are basically made from grapes from Tempranillo vines planted before 1970's, grown in the best clay-limestone soils of the Rioja Alavesa. This variety withstands oak- and bottle ageing well thanks to its good balance of acidity and fine tannin. The Graciano and Mazuelo varieties, whose presence in the blend does not exceed 10%, provide crispness and a lively colour.

Fermentation takes place at a controlled temperature of 26ºC and the maceration time is never more than 12 days. Riscal reservas spend around two years in American Oak barrels, producing a wine which corresponds to the classic Rioja style: fresh, fine, elegant and very suitable for laying down for many years. Before release for sale it spends a minimum of one year rounding off in the bottle; time enough to show how much complexity tempranillo is able to achieve.

This year’s vintage has been, to a great extent, conditioned by a series of key events during the growing period. We started the cycle with good reserves and this was reflected in good budding and vines which would be heavily laden in general. The absence of spring frosts, strong winds during budding and hailstorms in the summer meant that we reached the middle of September with very healthy grapes and quality indicators which promised a very interesting harvest was on the way. From 14 September a rainy spell began with average temperatures of around 20ºC. Then a dry spell arrived. The harvest began on 24 September in the oldest vineyards with low yields and located in the earlier-ripening parts of the district. From then until the 12 October harvesting proceeded normally, with the harvest looking very good. From the 12th onwards the first outbreaks of botrytis appeared, making it necessary to be much more careful during picking, with a strict selection of the grapes conducted in the vineyards. It was a large harvest in quantity and of good quality, with colour indicators in the medium-high range of the historical records and with acidity levels which are highly suited to ageing wines

Intense black-cherry colour with good depth of colour and hardly any signs of evolution. Very expressive aromas on the nose with notes of liquorice, cinnamon and black pepper, with just a subtle hint of the long cask-ageing, thanks to its great complexity and ripe, concentrated fruit. Fresh and easy to drink on the palate, good backbone and lovely, polished tannins. The long, persistent finish leaves gentle balsamic reminders of the finest quality.

This wine goes well with ham, mild cheeses, casseroles which are not highly spiced, bean and pulse dishes, poultry, red meat, grills and roasts.

90% Tempranillo, 10% Graciano & Mazuelo

2014 not yet reviewed, but this is what they said about the 2010 89 Points

A classic among classics, the 2010 Reserva is a blend of Tempranillo with 7% Graciano and 3% Mazuelo that is polished and developed showing clean, tertiary aromas and focused flavors framed by fully resolved tannins. It is approachable, easy to understand and finishes with a tasty, lactic note. Believe it or not, there are three million bottles of this wine, the question is how homogeneous are the different lots.

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