In the mid 1800’s, a Spanish noble by the name of Camilo Hurtado de Amézaga made a trek to France to study under the great winemakers in Bordeaux. Eager to experiment with these newly learned methods, he returned home to start his own winery in Rioja. His were the first wines in Spain to utilize aging in French Oak and other techniques. Accolades for his wines followed soon after, and before long they became the preferred beverage of King Alfonso XII. Demand went through the roof. These highly sought after cuvée’s quickly became threatened by a very particular kind of thief: counterfeiters. Camilo was determined to thwart said thieves and protect his wine and reputation, so he came up with a gold wire netting that surrounded bottles of his wine. If the netting were ever to be tampered with, one could surmise that the wine had been as well. This gold netting quickly became synonymous with the highest quality of Rioja. Today, though more technologically advanced methods of thwarting counterfeits are used, this gold wire is still recognized as a symbol of cachet. This brings me to Sierra Cantabria’s 2010 Gran Reserva Rioja.
There is something entirely alluring about the aromatic intensity of a quality aged Rioja. It smells of another time, season, and place. The 2010 Gran Reserva is a blend of 97% Tempranillo and 3% Graciano that is aged for 24 months in French and American Oak. This highly perfumed red shows flashes of dried violets, spice box, vanilla, and earth. A garnet red hue in the glass, the wine has remarkable freshness despite its eleven years of age. The fruit profile is mainly red (think ripe raspberry and cherry) and the underlying complexity knows no bounds with balsamic, espresso, and oaky vanilla elements that linger long after the last sip. Medium in body with smooth tannins and fresh acidity, this wine is drinking excellently now and will continue to do so for the next 5-7 years. Good Rioja was one of my first wine loves, and suffice to say, I am still enamored. Pair this stuff with a nice charcuterie board and let the wine be the star of the show.
Sierra Cantabria’s 2010 Gran Reserva is indeed wrapped in the iconic gold wire befitting quality and comes packed six bottles to a case. The wine earned 93 points with Vinous and retails for $44.99, a very good price for a wine earning the Gran Reserva designation. What does the Gran Reserva designation require, you might ask? At least two years in oak and a further three years in bottle, with many wineries waiting even longer until they feel the wine is ready to drink.
Due in Friday, please let me know if I can set any aside for you.