RKS Wine: Don’t Overlook Spain for Quality Low Priced Wines: Frustrated Wine Writer Saved by Rioja!

Spain is the third largest wine producer in the world and with all that wine there can be quality in the lower price levels. The past is the past but I recall discovering a superb low-priced rosé from Spain a few years ago and it was selling for $7. It never reappeared.

We pare down the wallet with a $13.95 wine from Valencia called El Angosto La Tribuna 2019.

There are some wine drinkers who appreciate a tiny bit of brett in their wines saying it makes them charming and rustic. Brett is yeast spoilage and often has a barnyard or leathery smell. On the nose when just uncorked with this wine you’ll get a blast of barnyard and this is not a good introduction to any red wine! But newly opened wine can present challenges that can be overcome by decanting and letting the wine breathe.

Letting this wine breathe knocks out a good deal of the barnyard but not all. Is it drinkable?

On the nose the barnyard has largely dissipated but it is still hanging around. There is much blueberry on the nose, blackberry waffles and some black cherry. On the palate plenty of tannins and mucho cork but no fruit. Two successive bottles tried tonight that must be returned. Please not a third!

Golly has COVID wreaked havoc on my tastebuds tonight?

One more try and we move to a Rioja Lopez de Haro in one of those downward spirals that face a wine reviewer. If this one is a bust I’ll have to run a COVID rapid test. Two returnable wines in one night!

On the nose I think we are safe with that traditional Rioja nose of bright red cherry cradled in some older oak. If you really strain that sense of smell there are bits of raspberry and strawberry but there is no doubt that cheerful cherry rules the roost. Are you mumbling this aroma is too simplistic and one dimensional for me? Perhaps it is but it is a trustworthy hallmark of comfort for me and Rioja. After two bottles of botched wine I’ll settle for trustworthy at the moment unlike a Syrian migrant leaving the shores of Turkey in an attempt by Turkey to use migrants as a weapon against the Greeks.

The wine is a blend of 90% Tempranillo, 7% Grenache and 3% Graciano and has spent 18 months in oak barrels.

On the palate the tannins are reticent allowing that cherry to jump out at you. And that’s it folks lots of cherry to save the day. Not a complex wine but in informal family tastings Rioja seems to go over well with the younger palate. Although Thanksgiving is so far away this Rioja is family approved for turkey with cranberry sauce. Some great pairings with food are discoverable by accident or convenience. You have some leftovers and why you have a glass of wine or less in a bottle so you pair it with food not expecting much. I have a Japanese curried cod experience (try Japanese SK Curry Blocks) that this wine would suit! Also a lighter red wine like this would match with most recipes for Portuguese Bachalau (salt cod casserole). I say most as there over 300 recipes for that dish!

(Hacienda López de Haro DOC Rioja Crianza 2018, López de Haro, San Vicente de la Sonsierra, Spain, $15.95, Liquor Control Board of Ontario # 377481, 13.5%, 750 mL, Robert K. Stephen A Little Birdie Told Me So Rating 89/100).

Published by Robert K Stephen (CSW)

Robert K Stephen writes about food and drink, travel, and lifestyle issues. He is one of the few non-national writers to be certified as a wine specialist by the Society of Wine Educators, in Washington, DC. Robert was the first associate member of the Wine Writers’ Circle of Canada. He also holds a Mindfulness Certification from the University of Leiden and the University of Toronto. Be it Spanish cured meat, dried fruit, BBQ, or recycled bamboo place mats, Robert endeavours to escape the mundane, which is why he has established this publication. His motto is, "Have Story, Will Write."

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