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A Blind Tasting of 2005 Bordeaux with a Rioja

September 16, 2019 Leave a comment

At the very end of the summer, I was a guest of Andy for the monthly wine tasting.  We first gathered around his kitchen to eat from huge wedges of cheese and drink from a bottle of 2017 Matanzas Creek Winery, Chardonnay, Alexander Valley.  It is quite good all around, there is a balanced quartet of yellow fruit, body, acidity, and wood influence. It is a wine I recommend drinking again.

The tasting itself consisted of eight wines served blind. They had been opened some four hours prior. We knew one bottle was corked which logically left us with 6 bottles on theme and 1 ringer. There was a Bordeaux flavor profile to most bottles but the lightness and herbaceous quality of the first two had my sights first set to Chile. Then came the third wine with its ripe fruit, weight, and minerality and I was no longer certain of the theme. It was clear, though, that the last wine was the ringer.

This assortment of 2005 Bordeaux from Pauillac, Saint-Estephe, and Saint-Julien varied in quality. I found the 2005 Chateau Lagrange, Saint-Julien as my clear favorite and very satisfying to drink. It is coming into a fine mid-life which should last for a bit of time. I do not mind the herbaceous note I found in my next two favorites: the 2005 Chateau Saint-Pierre, Saint-Julien a good value which is very mineral and the 2005 Chateau Leoville-Poyferre, Saint Julien. The latter is rounded, yet closely played and in need of several more years in the cellar.  The 2005 Cos D’Estournel, Saint-Estephe under performed and did not exhibit to the potential of the label.  Sadly, the 2005 Chateau Grand-Puy-Lacoste, Pauillac was completely undrinkable.  Finally, the 2005 CVNE, Imperial Rioja Reserva stood out for its young, red fruit.  I found it hard to judge coming after the other wines.

1 – 2005 Chateau Leoville-Poyferre, Saint Julien
Imported by Appellation Imports. Alcohol 13.5%. A dark cherry with garnet color. Aromatic with notes of cedar mixing in blue and red fruit. A good nose somewhat herbaceous. Bordeaux like in the mouth with round black fruit, a dry finish, and some fine structure in the end. Expertly made and closely played, it shows more ripe fruit and structure with air. Best given a few more years in the cellar.  ***(*) 2022-2032.

2 – 2005 Chateau Haut-Bages-Liberal, Pauillac
Imported by Benchmark wines. Alcohol 13%. Very dark. More herbaceous on the nose with blue fruit. A touch more structure yet also more suppleness. Less intensity with watering acidity and more tannins on the gums. A short finish. It could use more time for the structure to resolve but this bottle might now have the fruit for it. *** Now – 2029.

3 – 2005 Chateau Lagrange, Saint-Julien
Imported by Chateaux + Estates. Alcohol 13%. A more complex wine with ripe flavors, weight, and minerals. The primarily blue and black fruit has a green hint but it weighty with good length. A fresh structure throughout it is redder in the middle. My favorite. **** Now – 2034.

4 – 2005 Chateau D’Armailhac, Pauillac
Imported by North Lake Wines. Alcohol 13%. Some brett on the nose. Interesting, tart red fruit with a fine tannic finish that is quite grippy on the gums. Animale flavors in the finish.  *** Now – 2029.

5 – 2005 Cos D’Estournel, Saint-Estephe
Imported by Chateaux + Estates. Alcohol 13.5%. Less aromatic. More licorice-like in the flavor, a touch racy with large amounts of flavor. Dark in the finish. It just does not deliver the balanced goods.  A drinkable bottle but under-performing based on the reveal.  **(*) Now – 2029.

6 – 2005 Chateau Saint-Pierre, Saint-Julien
Imported by Liquidlink. Alcohol 13%. Low-lying on the nose. The wine shows substance but also some herbaceous qualities. Blue and black flavored with a mineral vein. In fact, the mineral vein persisted throughout the tasting. ***(*) Now – 2029.

7 – 2005 Chateau Grand-Puy-Lacoste, Pauillac
Imported by Heritage Wine Cellars. Alcohol 13%. Corked!  Not Rated.

8 – 2005 CVNE, Imperial Rioja Reserva
Alcohol 13.5%. Sweet cranberry and strawberry fruits, unevolved with watering acidity. Sweet oak. Develops intensity with air.  Younger tasting than the other wines despite the completely integrated structure.  *** Now – 2024.

A Pungoed Pair of Wines: Pesquera and Muga

One recent Friday, my friend with the Pungo invited me over for an impromptu tasting.  While we started with Madeira, it was the pair of red Tempranillo wines that he Pungoed.  Up first, the 2001 Bodegas Alejandro Fernandez, Tinto Pesquera, Ribera del Duero is drinking at a very broad, maturing phase.  From the very first dispensation, it is attractively aromatic with an irresistible blend of fruit, wood box, and minerals in the mouth.  I really like this wine as it reflects the intensity of Ribera Del Duero and it has bottle age!  While only three years younger, the 2004 Bodegas Muga, Rioja Reserva comes across as if from this decade.  It is still grapey and a bit linear in presentation so I would try again in three years.  Many thanks to my friend.

Pongo1

2001 Bodegas Alejandro Fernandez, Tinto Pesquera, Ribera del Duero
Imported by Classical Wines from Spain.  This wine is 100% Tempranillo aged for 18 months in 100% new American oak.  Alcohol 13.5%.  A good, dark color in the glass.  A beautiful nose.  In the mouth the wine is maturing yet invigorating.  Dry flavors of red fruit mix with wood box notes and minerals.  It is an intense wine, dry with fresh acidity, and glycerin-like body.  **** Now – 2029.

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2004 Bodegas Muga, Rioja Reserva
This wine is a blend of mostly Tempranillo with Mazuelo and Graciano that was fermented in oak vats then aged for 24 months in oak.  Alcohol 12%.  Grapey, much less evolved with some earthy minerals and crisp acidity.  *** 2022 – 2029.

A modest López de Heredia tasting

I recently met up with Sudip to taste seven wines from López de Heredia; three Viña Gravonia, three Viña Bosconia, and one Viña Tondonia as a reference.  López de Heredia dates back to the 19th century in Rioja but for our purposes we concentrated on relatively young vintages back to 1998.  I was most curious to see how much vintage variation there is.

Of the trio of 2004, 2002, and 1998 Viña Gravonia I much preferred the oldest vintage.  All of the wines bear oxidized, apple orchard aromas and flavors but the 1998 sports the least being the most vinous.  It has zippy acidity with some ripeness to the flavors.  The 2000 was pungent, evocative of mushrooms and the simplest.  The 2004 is clearly the youngest.  It is crisp with tart lemon and clean flavors.  I found it a bit tight and think it will drink better several years down the road.  Once these wines develop they should hold well for years.  For those who have yet to taste Gravonia it is unique.

All of the red wines were double-decanted.  The 1999 Viña Bosconia quickly became and remained my favorite Bosconia for current drinking, in fact it is still young!  It combines both fruit, damp earth, and bottle age, all delivered with tension.  I expect further cellaring to be beneficial.  The 2000 is muted and mature.  The 2005 is young but already sports some earthy funk like the 1999.  The structure and acidity is there for development, which is certainly will do, but our bottle of 1999 reveals greater potential.

Finally, the 2005 Viña Tondonia shows great potential.  It is savory, young and dense in a way that there is stuffing for decades of aging supported by the structure.  It is drinkable now but remains closely played.  It is worth the extra $5 over the 2005 Viña Bosconia.

2004 López de Heredia, Viña Gravonia, Rioja Blanco
Imported by Think Global Wine Selections. This wine is 100% Viura  Alcohol 12.5%.  The most aromatic with yeasty, apple orchard aromas.  A touch more acidity in the mouth, tart lemon, clean, good body, and wood-like texture.  Crisp.  **(*) Now – 2023 then will last.

2002 López de Heredia, Viña Gravonia, Rioja Blanco
Imported by Think Global Wine Selections. This wine is 100% Viura  Alcohol 12.5%.  A pungent nose of orchard fruit.  A soft entry of mushroom-like flavor, then acidity and apple-orchard in the finish.  The simplest of the trio.  ** Now.

1998 López de Heredia, Viña Gravonia, Rioja Blanco
Imported by USA Wine Imports. This wine is 100% Viura  Alcohol 12%.  A golden honey color.  Good nose.  An oxidized hint though the wine is more vinous with apple-like, zippy acidity.  There is modest body to the ethereal ripe flavors which cover the mouth but leave the middle slightly hollow. There less noticeable acidity in the end.  *** Now but will last.

2005 López de Heredia, Viña Bosconia, Rioja Riserva – $35
Imported by Think Global Wine Selections. This wine is a blend of 80% Tempranillo, 15% Garnacho, 3% Graciano, and 2% Mazuelo.  Alcohol 13.5%.  Good fruit, cherry flavors, and a little earth have grapey density into the tart, cranberry middle. A young natured wine but already some attractive funk is present.  With air a supporting, fine dry structure becomes evident with dry, black and red flavors in the finish.  *** Now – 2028.

2000 López de Heredia, Viña Bosconia, Rioja Riserva
Imported by Polarn Selections. This wine is a blend of 80% Tempranillo, 15% Garnacho, 3% Graciano, and 2% Mazuelo.  Alcohol 13%.  The most muted nose of the four reds with a bit of stink.  A bit more mature in the mouth, red fruit, watering acidity, a touch of ink then sharper in the finish.  With air it is dusty in the mouth with a similar profile but more pronounced sour cherry flavor.  Not the best of the trio.  *(*) Now.

1999 López de Heredia, Viña Bosconia, Rioja Riserva
Imported by USA Wine Imports. This wine is a blend of 80% Tempranillo, 15% Garnacho, 3% Graciano, and 2% Mazuelo.  Alcohol 13%.  Aromatic with attractive damp earth notes.  Fruiter in the mouth, cedar, bottle age flavors, and fine textured tannins add presence.  There is citric tension and grip to add life.  With air there remains a core of flavor which carries through the end with an aftertaste of sour cherries and acidity.  ***(*) Now – 2028.

2005 López de Heredia, Viña Tondonia, Rioja Riserva – $40
Imported by Think Global Wine Selections. This wine is a blend of 75% Tempranillo, 15% Garnacho, 5% Graciano, and 5% Mazuelo.  Alcohol 13%.  Young, fruity, and dense.  With air this savory wine shows body but also has the acidity and structure for it to age.  Strong future potential.  **** Now – 2038.

CVNE Older Vintage Tour with Carlos Delage, Deputy Export Director

It is a testament to winemaking with excellent parcels of fruit and aging in carefully maintained facilities, that I have consistently enjoyed several bottles of the 1964 CVNE, Vina Real Reserva Especial. I have drunk other vintages as well including the 1976 CVNE, Imperial, Rioja Gran Reserva which was served by Carlos Delage, CVNE Deputy Export Director, at a luncheon in Washington, DC, during early April. What few seem to realize is that CVNE still produces complex, age-worthy traditional wines not only from legendary vintages but those which are overshadowed.

The glass of 2014 CVNE, Monopole Clasico which greeted us upon arrival is rooted in history. This wine was originally made in the 1960s and 1970s but then faded away to no longer be produced.  When Victor Urrita, CVNE CEO, tasted a mature bottle of the 1979, he was so impressed he took the only logical next step; he contacted the winemaker himself, Ezequiel Garcia.

So famed were the CVNE wines produced by Ezequiel Garcia during the 1960s and 1970s that he earned the nickname El Brujo or “The Wizard”. It is his vintages of Vina Real Reserva Especial and Imperial Gran Reserva that savvy wine drinkers covet today. However, his Monopole Clasico has remained obscure until it was resurrected with the 2014 vintage.

Not to be confused with the regular Monopole, the Monopole Clasico is unique in Rioja history as it features a good portion of Sherry. Unlike any other wine, this is a blend of Viura with 15% Manzanilla sourced from the Hidalgo family. The wine is then aged in a combination of American oak and Sherry bota. Incredibly, CVNE is still in possession of the 1970s letter granting permission to bottle this wine as Rioja. We all enjoyed a glass as we gathered for the luncheon. I found it light and fresh with an attractive, oily body throughout and Sherry background note.

Once seated, we started off with an tremendous glass of 2004 Contino, Rioja Reserva.  From an excellent vintage, this is a wine generous in flavor and capable of long age.  In my post Delicious and historic, the 1974 Contino, Rioja Reserva I describe the very first vintage as “age-defying”.  With the 2004 demonstrating potential for that same descriptor, an array of CVNE Imperial, Rioja Gran Reserva illustrats the evolution of wine through the excellent 2010 and 2005 vintages along with the very good 1998 and good 1976 vintages.  The former are still in a development phase but while the 1998 is still structured, it is now gaining complexity from maturity.

The ability for a wine to age is of no importance unless it not only tastes good but also develops the unique flavors from bottle age.  The 1976 tasted at lunch was the best of the two examples I have tasted over the past year, no doubt because it came straight from CVNE.  While it reflects the modest vintage in its gentleness, it has taken on that slightly sweet, concentrated fruit flavor that I love in good wines over 40 years of age. If this is the peak of the 1976 vintage then I can only imagine the heights that the 2010 and 2005 vintages will achieve.

Many thanks to Carlos Delage (CVNE), Gloria Zapatero (CVNE), and Rob McFarlane (Elite Wines) for inviting to the luncheon.

2004 Contino, Rioja Reserva
Alcohol 14.5%. The youngest looking of the first three wines. Still has a grapey color and is highly aromatic on the nose. This is forward, promptly filling the mouth as floral and spiced flavors come out in the middle. It is showing beautifully with a fresh, almost menthol note, hints of sweet oak, and a finish of minerals and good funk. It wraps up with a kick of freshness. ****(*) Now – 2038.

1998 CVNE, Imperial, Rioja Gran Reserva
The nose is complex with red and black fruits with spices. In the mouth the red fruit is taking on maturity. The watering acidity carries the sweet and powdery red fruit. There is some chewy texture from structure and even a little tartness. Though entering maturity it will develop for some time. ***(*) Now – 2028.

1976 CVNE, Imperial, Rioja Gran Reserva
Alcohol 13%. A clear, light to medium garnet. The nose still offers modest depth and meat aromas. In the mouth is a start of focused red fruit then beautiful powdery, cherry fruit flavors. The wine is lithe and light through the middle, carried by watering acidity into a gentle finish. It develops notes of old wood, slightly sweet concentrated fruit, and meat. **** Now but will last.

2010 CVNE, Imperial, Rioja Gran Reserva
Very dark in color and still concentrated in the mouth. With youthful vigor, the flavors are held close but are not tight. There is ripe fruit and racy texture providing the stuffing for years of age. The oak still needs time to integrate. It has a long future over which it will improve. **** 2020-2038.

2005 CVNE, Imperial, Rioja Gran Reserva
The grapey dark color stains the glass. There is a cherry note at first then as the wine slowly opens up black licorice and fresh herbs. It has strength for development. ***(*) 2020-2030.

2012 CVNE, Graciano
This was vinified in oak then aged for 18 months in new French oak. This is very young with tight flavors. A menthol note mixes with the blue and black fruit which is almost bitter. Certainly unique.  *** 2023-2030.

Our host Carlos Delage, CVNE Deputy Export Director

A tasting of Hermanos Peciña Rioja from 2016-2001

Bodegas Hermanos Pecina was founded in 1992 by Pedro Peciña who was the vineyard manager of La Rioja Alta.  The wines are fashioned using the traditional methods of Rioja first developed in the 19th century.   I particularly enjoy traditional Rioja so after first tasting a Peciña wine six years ago, I have shared bottles with others.  When it came time for us to host a dinner for a group of co-workers and friends I took the opportunity to serve as many different bottlings as I could.

The wines of Hermanos Peciña are imported by The Rare Wine Co. so I turned to Mannie Berk from whom I was able to purchase nine different wines.  For background information on the wines I recommend you check out the RWC Hermanos Peciña page where you may also purchase some of the selections we tasted.

Recommendations

For current drinking I recommend the 2016 Hermanos Peciña, Rioja Cosecha which is grapey, yet surprisingly deep for a young wine.  I strongly recommend you seek out the 2011 Hermanos Peciña, Rioja Reserva.  This was the first bottle finished and group favorite, of which I agree!  It is entering its first drinkable phase so you can follow it over the next decade.

Traditional Rioja is capable of slowly developing complexity over a long period of time.  This in part stems from long aging in used American oak.  This capability is clearly reflected in the Gran Reserva and Vendimia Seleccionada bottles.  The 2010 Hermanos Peciña, Finca Iscorta de Pecina, Rioja Gran Reserva is the tightest and in need of the most cellar age.  This single vineyard wine possesses power yet also balance.  Both the 2009 Hermanos Peciña, Señorio de P. Peciña, Rioja Gran Reserva and 2003 Hermanos Peciña, Señorio de P. Peciña, Rioja Gran Reserva are in development.  Hints of maturity come out on the nose or in the palate but these vintages are still clinging to youth.

The 2001 Hermanos Peciña, Señorio de P. Peciña, Rioja Vendimia Seleccionada is another wine that you should seek out.  Widely regarded as an excellent vintage in Rioja, this bottle is just coming into its own which allows  you to experience this great year.  Pure in flavor with juicy acidity there is a luxurious mouthfeel with texture in the finish.

Tasting Notes

2016 Hermanos Peciña, Señorio de P. Peciña, Rioja Cosecha
A blend of 95% Tempranillo, 3% Graciano, and 3% Garnacha from the youngest vines averaging 15-25 years of age. Aged in stainless steel and no oak. Grapey but deep in flavor with fresh fruit. Moderate weight, modest structure, and a little acidity. A good young wine. ** Now – 2020.

2013 Hermanos Peciña, Señorio de P. Peciña, Rioja Crianza
A blend of 95% Tempranillo, 3% Graciano, and 2% Garnacha sourced from three vineyards with vines averaging 30-60 years of age. Aged for 2 years in American oak. Scented fruit on the nose. More weight in the mouth, creamy blue fruit, a bit robust but water acidity keeps things lively. The structure comes in at the end with very fine tannins and firm hints of wood. Might develop some more. ** Now – 2022.

2006 Hermanos Peciña, Señorio de P. Peciña, Rioja Crianza magnum
A blend of 95% Tempranillo, 3% Graciano, and 2% Garnacha sourced from three vineyards with vines averaging 30-60 years of age. Aged for 2 years in American oak. Quite mature on the nose; the aromas are good. In the mouth are sweet, red fruit flavors, sweat, and a bit of roast earth. It becomes a bit dirty with air such that I can’t help but think this is a sub par bottle. Not Rated.

2011 Hermanos Peciña, Señorio de P. Peciña, Rioja Reserva
A blend of 95% Tempranillo, 3% Graciano, and 2% Garnacha sourced from 35-60 year old vines. Aged for 3 years in American oak. A brooding nose of licorice and tobacco. A tart, black fruited start then a creamy middle with tobacco and texture. A strong future with the most potential out of all wines. Really quite good, a group favorite. **** Now – 2028.

2009 Hermanos Peciña, Señorio de P. Peciña, Rioja Gran Reserva
A blend of 95% Tempranillo, 3% Graciano, and 2% Garnacha sourced from 60-70 year old vines. Aged for 4 years in American oak. Meaty with slightly sweet aromas make for a good nose. This is certainly young as evidenced by the grip yet there is a mature edge to the flavor. Watering acidity and hints of wood carry it on. ***(*) Now – 2035.

2003 Hermanos Peciña, Señorio de P. Peciña, Rioja Gran Reserva
A blend of 95% Tempranillo, 3% Graciano, and 2% Garnacha sourced from 60-70 year old vines. Aged for 4 years in American oak. Good nose, aromatic, and much more mature than the 2009. The wine is open in the mouth with gentle, yet focused fruit which does not taste mature until the finish. It is supported by citric acidity. A slow ager. ***(*) Now – 2030.

2010 Hermanos Peciña, Finca Iscorta de Pecina, Rioja Gran Reserva
A blend of 95% Tempranillo, 3% Garnacha, and 2% Graciano sourced from 50 year old vines at the Finca Isacorta Vineyard. Modern, tight and lean right now. Black fruited with a creamy edge. All components are perfectly balanced with a subtle hint of vanilla which will integrate. **** 2023-3035.

2006 Hermanos Peciña, Señorio de P. Peciña, Rioja Vendimia Seleccionada
A blend of 95% Tempranillo, 3% Graciano, and 2% Garnacha sourced from 30-60 year old vines. Aged for 3 years in American oak. Still young at first, meaty with roast notes then with air fully mature flavors come out. This is a round wine with a soft start. The structure slowly builds supporting sour fruits in the end. *** Now – 2023.

2001 Hermanos Peciña, Señorio de P. Peciña, Rioja Vendimia Seleccionada
A blend of 95% Tempranillo, 3% Graciano, and 2% Garnacha sourced from 30-60 year old vines. Aged for 3 years in American oak. A bit tight at first though rounder with a coffee note. With air, a touch more power and almost juicy acidity. Pure flavors of largely red fruit but pure blue fruits and minerals come out in the end. Oily mouthfeel and right at the end, extract lends texture to the finish. **** 2020-2040.

Highly aromatic 1970 Bodegas Alavesas, Solar de Samaniego, Rioja

Bodegas Alavesas was founded in 1972 by the wealthy industrialist Miguel Angel Alonso Samaniego. A new winery was completed in 1973 in which wines were made from some several hundred hectares of owned vineyards and locally purchased fruit.  In the early 1980s, the 1968 and 1970 vintages were considered amongst the best.  Given these dates, it is clear that the winery jump-started production by bringing in purchased wine for maturation.

The two wood-aged red wines are named after 18th century Spanish poets.  The top wine, Solar de Samaniego, was produced both as a Rioja Reserva and Rioja Gran Reserva.  The 1970 Bodegas Alavesas, Solar de Samaniego, Rioja featured in this post represents the Reserva.  As such it is a blend of approximately 90% Tempranillo with 10% Viura sourced from the Alavesas.  The fruit for this wine was destemmed, fermented in concrete tank then spent 30 months in tank followed by 18 months in cask.  The terroir, blend, and production  contribute to the historic view that Bodegas Alavesas produced elegant wines.

This particular bottle offers up some of the most engaging aromas I have come across recently.  Whereas I found campfire, red meat, and tangerines a friend succinctly stated “mesquite”.  Upon drinking this elegant wine I was left wanting for more length but I did not mind as much for I kept returning to the nose.  That is until we finished the bottle.

1970 Bodegas Alavesas, Solar de Samaniego, Rioja
Imported by The Rioja Wine Co.  The nose smells of campfire and red meat then reveals aromas of red fruit, ripe oranges, and tangerines.  The nose is the strong part of this wine, almost capable of capturing your full attention.  In the mouth the flavors are elegant and very short, leaving me to wish for more length.  Revisiting the nose time after time yields sweet, concentrated fruit aromas.  **** for the nose alone but overall ** Now.

A Spanish pair of Tempranillo

April 20, 2018 1 comment

Both of the wines in this post are made from Tempranillo yet one is from Ribera del Duero and the other from Rioja.  The 2015 Alfredo Maestro, Almate, Ribera del Duero is new wine for me and I am pleased to write it is well made and quite tasty.  The 2010 Sierra Cantabria, Rioja Reserva is the more serious of the two yet it is beautiful.  It is clear that 2010 is an excellent vintage  capable of developing for the next several years. These two wines are available at MacArthur Beverages.

2015 Alfredo Maestro, Almate, Ribera del Duero – $15
Imported by Llaurador Wines.  This wine is 100% Tempranillo sourced from vines at 700 and 1,000 meters of elevation that was fermented in stainless steel then aged for four months in neutral French oak.  Alcohol 14%.  Flavors of cool, juicy fruit are carried by watering acidity over a fine structure.  Quite tasty with a dry, graphite finish.  *** Now – 2023.

2010 Sierra Cantabria, Rioja Reserva – $24
Imported by The Country Vintner.  This wine is 100% Tempranillo aged 18 months in French and American oak barrels.  Alcohol 14%.  After a few hours of air this beautiful wine fills the mouth with powdery red and black fruit.  There is some cocoa and only a hint of sweetness to the flavors.  There is fresh acidity, but not out of balance for the flavor, spices, and dry baking spices in the gentle finish.  ***(*) Now – 2028.