September 19, 2008

Old school Rioja

I came across a well-priced bottle of 1996 Campillo Rioja Reserva, and it restored my faith and interest in traditionally styled Spanish red wine.

For the past few years, I’ve heard lots about how Spain is doing great things with red wine. People love all the inexpensive stuff from Yecla and Toro, not to mention the pricey stuff from Priorato and elsewhere. Me? I’m just not that excited.

Then something like this Campillo wine happens into my glass and I’m renewed in my passion for what made Spain great.

Apparently Campillo isn’t an old producer, like my Rioja favorites including Lopez y Heredia and CUNE. It just tastes old, in a good way. This wine is a perfect example. It’s not purple hued and smelling of new French oak. Instead it’s ruby red, youthful for 12 years old but showing a little rust.

Then the aroma. Sweet dried cherries with pepper and earth notes. The integrated wood spice is turning into a fresh dried tobacco aroma that’s classic Rioja. With air there’s great intensity and depth to the perfume. I could smell this wine all day.

In the mouth the acid is fresh and brisk, the red fruit and clean earth flavors long and taut. This is medium bodied and lacking only the palate intensity of a gran reserva. Everything else is there, and while notes I’ve seen about this wine suggest drinking it sooner than later, I think this wine will age effortlessly for another decade and probably longer. These old school wines seem to get just the right amount of oxidation young to preserve them longer than you ever think possible, all the while remaining fresh and lively.

I’m going back for more of this one. If you’re local and interested in where to find it, let me know.


Marshall Manning said...

I've been more impressed by the whites coming out of Spain compared with the reds.

Vincent Fritzsche said...

Spain's become a bit like California in that the more money you send, the more oaky and jammy the red wine is.

What whites do you like?