Ramirez Gran Reserva Rioja 2010 – Budget Addition to the Cellar
Rioja is so often an affordable option compared to the world’s other great wine regions such as Bordeaux, Burgundy, Barolo & Barbaresco, et. al. For instance, CUNE’s Vina Real, La Rioja Alta’s Alberdi and Arana bottlings are well known as excellent values, and then there’s the peerless Lopez Heredia whose reds famously over-deliver (and whose whites are in a class by themselves, although not budget priced). Somewhat less well known is our featured wine today, Bodegas Ramirez de la Piscina.
Ramirez de la Piscina is a family-owned bodega founded in San Vicente de la Sonsierra in 1973 by Julio Ramirez de la Piscina, a second generation vintner with roots in Ábalos, Rioja. The family name, Ramirez de la Piscina, is an ancient medieval Spanish name that can be traced back the the 12th century and is tied to a hermitage near the winery called La Ermita de Santa María de la Piscina. Today, the family produces classic Rioja wines based on old clones of Tempranillo planted surrounding San Vicente de la Sonsierra, one of the most sought after terroirs in Rioja Alta (itself considered the greatest of the three sub-regions of Rioja). All the vineyards are estate owned. The viticulture is sustainable, no pesticides, herbicides, or fungicides are used. Vine age ranges from 30 to up to 80 years and the grapes are harvested by hand. Fermentation is natural and the wine is minimally filtered.
The 2010 Gran Reserva is polished and focused, and leans modern in style. Wine writer Josh Raynolds describes it thus: “Deep ruby. Pungent bouquet of high-toned cherry, tobacco and peppery spices, along with deeper suggestions of vanilla and dark chocolate. Sappy, spicy and focused on the palate, offering bitter cherry, chewing tobacco and rose pastille flavors and a jolt of zesty acidity. Stretches out on a long, gently tannic finish that’s sharpened by a late note of cracked pepper. This wild wine was fermented in stainless steel tanks, then aged for a year in tank followed by two years in a combination of French and American oak barrels.” At ten years, the wine is well into its drinking window and should develop nicely for another ten years.
James Suckling, 94 pts. - “Very brash, ripe and dark toasted spices here. Plenty of oak. The fruit is in the ripe, dark-plum zone. On the palate, there’s a wealth of rich, dark chocolate and roasted cofee with a smooth, supple array of fine tannins. Good freshness.”
Jeb Dunnuck, 93 pts. - “The 2010 Gran Reserva is 100% Tempranillo from vineyards in Abalos and San Vicente de la Sonsierra that spent 24 months in new French and American oak. It's a deep, inky effort that's loaded with notions of blackcurrants, scorched earth, graphite, and lead pencil. Concentrated, rich, and full-bodied on the palate, with an awesome, expansive texture and sweet tannin, it's a seriously good, rich, concentrated effort that's going to benefit from 2-3 years of bottle age and cruise for 10-15 years in the cellar.”