The New York Times’ wine critic, Eric Asimov, recently wrote an article on Rioja titled:
Where age is the thing: Rioja Gran Reserva.
Here is an excerpt:
“I love old-school gran reservas. They have a unique softly burnished, mellow style, which seems both old and new at the same time. But even in Rioja, the style seems to be slipping away, except in the hands of committed traditionalists.
The style will not disappear any time soon. But now seems like a good time to try out the wines. They are not cheap, but they are not particularly expensive either, especially when you figure in the aging that has already occurred.
I would look for simply prepared dishes to go with these wines. Lamb is a classic match for Rioja. Roast pork would be great, too, as would various Spanish-style sausages and bean dishes. Even roast chicken would be fine.”
The three Gran Reservas he recommends are staples here at PJ Wine, we sell a lot of all three. We highly recommend them as well, top producers hanging on to the traditions of the area is something we love.
Faustino I Rioja Gran Reserva 2006
Shelf Price $37.99
Sale Price $33.97
93 pts Wine & Spirits Magazine
It stands out in a crowd of modern, concentrated wines with its delicate rose-petal scents and plump freshness..." Try pairing this wine with beef and lamb.
Bodegas Riojanas Rioja Gran Reserva Monte Real 2010
Shelf Price $38.99
Sale Price $34.97
90 pts Wine Advocate
All tertiary and balsamic aromas, the nose of the 2010 Monte Real Gran Reserva exploded in a mixture of cigar ash, incense, cold bonfire, used leather and forest floor. The palate was round and polished with some dusty tannins that should welcome some food.
100% Tempranillo from Cenicero. Classical vinification with destalked, crushed grapes, using new fermentation technologies and long maceration periods. Aged for 18 months in American oak barrels with the appropriate rackings and natural stabilization. Aged in the bottle for at least 6 months before release.
La Rioja Alta Rioja Gran Reserva 904 2009 (750ml)
Shelf Price $59.99
Sale Price $52.97
La Rioja Alta Rioja Gran Reserva 904 2009 (1.5L)
Shelf Price $129.99
Sale Price $114.97
95+ pts Wine Advocate
Time flies, and the 904 for sale is already the 2009 Gran Reserva 904, as they didn't bottle it in 2008. They are only going to bottle their top wines in very good and excellent vintages, so there will be a 2010 and 2011 but no 2012, 2013 or 2014. This super classical cuvee showcases the wines from Haro, silky and elegant after long aging in oak and a good future in bottle. 2009 was a powerful vintage, ripe but with good balance. The blend is approximately 90% Tempranillo and 10% Graciano, fermented in stainless steel with a 78-day natural malolactic. The aging was in four-year-old American oak barrels crafted by their own coopers; the wines aged from April 2010 until April 2014. During that time, the wine was racked every six months, to be finally bottled in November 2014. This is usually my favorite wine from the portfolio, where the balance between aging and youth reaches its highest point. It's developed but it keeps some fruit character, plenty of spices and balsamic aromas. The palate is polished but has some clout, with clean, focused flavors and a long, spicy and tasty finish. This represents good value for the quality it delivers. 150,000 bottles produced. Because they didn't produce 890 in 2009, the grapes for the 890 were in this 904. As a curiosity, they uncorked a 1982, which was superb.