I picked up this bottle yesterday here in LA thinking it might be nice for dinner tonight. What a terrific, traditional Rioja it turned out to be. Check out Wine Expo in Santa Monica if you're interested. I don't think you'll find this wine many other places.
I wrote about Wine Expo last year. It's unusual in that you probably won't recognize many producers and possibly appellations. The store undoubtedly has more Oltrepo Pavese than Napa cabernet. But be careful about prce, at least for the wines you can find elsewhere. On this visit, the Valpolicella of Vaona caught my eye as something I'm familiar with but can find elsewhere for much cheaper.
Nevertheless, the store has an amazing selection of Champagne, among other things. (I salivated at the big bottles of Scaldis Noel beer.) And pretty much everything is going to be in a super-traditional style, meaning drier and winier in character than the typical dark colored, fruit sweet and powerful wines so in favor these days.
I figured this was a good place for traditional Rioja. That is, ruby red colored, with floral aromas of pepper, tobacco, cherries and old wood spice. Then bright, racy flavors that mirror the aromas and come alive with a plate of lasagne and bread. This is the 2004 Don Jacobo Rioja Crianza. There's no jelly doughnut, pain grille or alcohol burn here. Just spicy, racy wine. Perhaps a touch dirty, with musky notes, but delicious and right like mildly stinky cheese.
I understand this kind of wine isn't for everyone. You're not a better person for liking this kind of thing. I just find an uncommon joy in such a wine. Simple and delicious, yet also subtle and complex. And this is just the crianza. I'll have to try reservas and gran reservas from this producer. The few notes I've found online suggest good things, but a look on winesearcher doesn't show anyone in the US carrying it (obviously not true, but clearly this isn't common stuff). Thanks Wine Expo.