Behind the Cork™ - Wine of the Week

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2013 Beronia Rioja Reserva ($20)

This Rioja from Beronia is produced with 95% Tempranillo, 4% Graciano (known as Morrastel in Languedoc) and 1% Mazuelo (a.k.a. Carignan).

Being a ‘Reserva’ in Rioja means that this wine is required to be aged for at least one year in oak and then spend two years in the bottle before being sold. This Beronia Rioja Reserva spent 20 months in oak barrels with American staves and French caps.

In the Rioja region, the Consejo Regulador DOCa Rioja, ensures that these quality requirements are met.

While the nice fruit flavors of black cherry and blackberry are notable from the Tempranillo, the oak aging adds nuances of smokiness and vanilla. The Graciano adds tannin and colored, while the tiny splash of Mazuelo also adds tannin and a hint of acidity.

This is a really nice Rioja from Beronia that pairs well with red meats, game and roasts. When looking for a Rioja, keep your eyes out for a ‘Reserva.’ It’s well worth it! And, this Beronia Rioja Reserva is another fine example of a Behind the Cork™ - Wine of the Week that’s attainable and affordable. Cheers and Salud!


Disclosure of Wine Sample Submission: I received this wine at no cost for review. The opinions expressed are entirely my own.

Sample Provided by Rebekah Polster of Donna White Communications

This wine is imported by Gonzalez Byass.

The Various Types of Rioja Wine

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Rioja is maybe the best known Spanish wine, but did you know there are various styles of Rioja?

First, let’s review a bit about Rioja. It is a region in North-Central Spain that’s known for its wine. And, like most Old-World wines, the wine label identifies the wine region, not the grape varietal.

Rioja wine is made from Tempranillo grapes but is usually a blend of Tempranillo, Garnacha and Mazuelo (a.k.a. Carignan).

But, have you’ve ever noticed that a Rioja wine is made in various styles?

The most basic Rioja wine is usually labeled simply as “Rioja.” Makes sense, right? It is aged for a matter of months, bottled and sold. It’s bright and fruity with big cherry flavors.

Then there is “Crianza.” You may not have noticed this word on the label since it doesn’t immediately mean anything to an English speaker. But, one of its translations means ‘aging.’ And, indeed, this style of Rioja is required to be aged for one year in oak and spend one year in the bottle before being sold. The controlling board in Rioja, the Consejo Regulador DOCa Rioja, ensures that these quality requirements are met.

Next is “Reserva.” Now this is a term that appears on a lot of wines, but in Rioja it actually means something. A Rioja Reserva is required to be aged for one year in oak and then spend two years in the bottle before being sold.

Finally, there is “Gran Reserva.” This wine must spend a minimum of two years in oak and three years in the bottle before being sold. But, often these wines are closer to ten years old when sold. This wine is produced from the best grapes and ends up with the best tannin structure.

So, when buying a Rioja, pay attention to the label and turn the bottle around to the backside to look for one of the identifying stickers. Then, you’ll know exactly what you are getting.

Cheers! Or in Spanish “iSalud!

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Behind the Cork™ - Wine of the Week

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2013 Hacienda López de Haro Reserva ($16)

This Rioja Reserva is a blend of 90% Tempranillo, 5% Granacha and 5% Graciano. It's grown in vineyards located near the heart of La Rioja, surrounded by the Sierra de Cantabria mountain and the river Ebro. 

A Rioja Reserva wine must spend a minimum of one year in the barrel, and cannot be sent to market until a full three years after vintage. But, this Reserva spent a full 20 months in French and American oak.

This Rioja has bright, fruit-forward red and black fruit flavors while remaining on the lighter side of medium-bodied. The oak aging helps give complexity to soften the fruitiness.  It has a nice easy finish with just a hint of spice.

In Rioja, "Reserva" truly has meaning and is certainly worth seeking out.  This is one of those. And, while many Rioja Reserva wines can go well above $20, this one is a great value. Look for this one. You will enjoy it!

Look for the red Rioja Reserva label to ensure authenticity.

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Disclosure of Wine Sample Submission: I received this wine at no cost for review. The opinions expressed are entirely my own. 

Sample provided by Rebekah Polster 401 West Communications and supplied by Vintae (www.vintae.com)