2011 Bodegas Muga Reserva Rioja Unfiltered

I have to be honest…I don’t drink much Rioja.  However, every time I do, I am reminded of how delicious a well-crafted bottle can be.  Last week, I participated in a Twitter tasting and among the wine lineup was 2011 Bodegas Muga Reserva Rioja Unfiltered.  Bodegas Muga was founded in 1932 and they follow relatively old-fashioned winemaking processes.  The Bodegas Muga Reserva Rioja Unfiltered is a blend of 65% Tempranillo, 20% Garnacha, 10% Graciano, and 5% Mazuelo.  It is fermented with native yeasts and aged for 6 months in wooden vats, 2 years in 60% French and 40% American oak barrels, and at least 12 months in the bottle.

2011 Bodegas Muga Rioja Reserva Unfiltered
2011 Bodegas Muga Rioja Reserva Unfiltered

The nose of Bodegas Muga Reserva Rioja Unfiltered has aromas of rich, dark fruit, oak, and spice.  The juicy palate has balanced acidity with tastes of dark berries, black cherries, licorice, and sweet oak.  It’s a bit fruit forward but not to a fault.  A great bottle of classic Rioja for around $25! (13.5% alcohol)

*Media Sample

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Exploring Lodi Tempranillo

Last night, I had the privilege to taste through 5 different Lodi Tempranillos along with fellow wine lovers in pre-celebration of Tempranillo Day, which will be held on Thursday, November 13th.  We were virtually joined by Stuart Spencer (Program Manager at the Lodi Winegrape Commission, owner and winemaker of St. Amant Winery, and President of the Board of Directors for TAPAS) and Rick Taylor (owner and winemaker of Riaza Wines and Director on the Board of Directors for TAPAS).

The lineup!
The lineup!

Over the past 10 years or so, Lodi has been exploring and realizing the potential of Spanish varieties.  Tempranillo has done particularly well, with over 900 tons produced in the region in 2013 (Source: CDFA 2013 Grape Crush Report).  Our hosts led us through a lineup of 5 very different Tempranillos from the Lodi region.  The wines showcased the diversity of Tempranillo along with differences in winemaking styles.  Here are a couple of my favorites from the evening:

2012 Bokisch Vineyards Tempranillo (SRP $23, 13.5% alcohol)

Bokisch Vineyards Tempranillo is a blend of 90% Tempranillo and 10% Graciano from two different vineyards in Lodi.  Savory notes of licorice and tobacco are followed by juicy flavors of cranberries and blackberries.  Light yet full of flavor.  A really nice wine!

2012 McCay Cellars “Lot 13 Vineyard” Tempranillo (SRP $28, 14.3% alcohol)

McCay Cellars Tempranillo is 100% Tempranillo that underwent native yeast fermentation (the only wine undergoing native fermentation in our lineup).  The palate features tastes of plums and red berries with underlying spicy notes.  Well-integrated tannins, smooth, and balanced.  This was the favorite of the night for me!

*Media Samples

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Viña Ijalba Livor 2012 Tempranillo

I stopped by Domaine LA a few weeks ago and a bottle of Viña Ijalba Livor Tempranillo caught my eye.  To be honest, I have spent so much time drinking wines from France, Italy, and California lately that I have been skipping over Spain almost entirely.  This bottle turned out to be a great, everyday find and I am glad I strayed away from my normal routine!

Technical Stuff

100% Tempranillo from the Rioja region of Spain.  Organically farmed.  13% alcohol and a retail price of around $10.

Viña Ijalba 2012 Livor Tempranillo
Viña Ijalba 2012 Livor Tempranillo

Tasting Notes

Aromas of bright cherries and spice are followed with straightforward tastes of juicy, red fruit and hints of herbs.  The finish is spicy and the acidity is balanced.  A terrific mid-week wine that pairs really well with lamb or pork!

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Mini-Review – Beronia Tempranillo 2009

After taking a sip of the nicely priced Tempranillo, I knew I wanted to share it with you guys.  Beronia Tempranillo comes from the Rioja region of Spain and, in my opinion, is a really terrific find from the region. 

The nose has aromas of dark berries and cedar.  Flavors of black cherries, plums, and a hint of anise compose the wine’s silky palate.  Supple tannins and a long finish make this an incredible sipper for under $15!  Pair with lamb chops or seafood paella.  (B+)

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Case Alert! Dominio de Eguren 2010 Protocolo Tinto

I spent yesterday evening tasting through some “value” wines and came out a little disappointed.  Fortunately, one wine didn’t disappoint at all…it actually far exceeded my expectations.  Protocolo 2010 Tinto was the winner of the night and I definitely plan on drinking it again!

About the Wine- From the Winery

2010 Protocolo Tinto is 100% Tempranillo from Spain.  It has 14% alcohol and retails for around $7.99.  For more information visit www.eguren.com.

Now the Fun Part- Tasting the Wine

This Tempranillo pours an intense, mouth-staining, ruby-red in the glass.  The nose is rich with aromas of berries and violets.  The palate is very impressive for a wine of this caliber.  Tastes of dark berries, tobacco, lots of black pepper, and a hint of black tea.  The finish is long and spicy and the price is right!  Grab a case for everyday drinking!

My Wine Rating- B+

Food Pairing Suggestions- Pair with burgers, paella, or Spanish cheeses including Manchego.

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Abacela and the 2012 California Wine Festival

Last weekend, I had the chance to pour with Abacela at the California Wine Festival at Doheny State Beach.  Abacela is a family run winery in Southern Oregon and they are renowned for their Tempranillo.  They were the first winery to plant Tempranillo in Oregon and their wines have consistently rivaled (and often beat out) Tempranillo from Spain.  Over the course of the weekend, I had a chance to try almost all of Abacela’s current and library releases and can honestly say that I enjoyed each wine.

Mr. Wine and Good Food and I getting ready for the crowds at the California Wine Festival

Here is a round-up of my notes on a few of their wines:

Abacela 2009 Tempranillo

This is Abacela’s entry-level Tempranillo but there is nothing basic about it.  Bright cherries, plum, oak, and mineral notes with lively acidity and a little bit of spice.  A wonderful Tempranillo and it is priced perfectly! ($21, 13.9%)

Abacela 2011 Albariño

A wonderfully refreshing wine with tastes of pears, tart citrus, and green apples.  Mineral notes woven throughout the wine and followed with a citrus packed finish.  Perfect summer wine! ($18, 12.9%)

Abacela 2005 Paramour

Where do I begin with this Tempranillo other than by saying it is outstanding!  Rich, old world style that would contend with some of the best Tempranillo from Spain.  Layers of dark cherries, fig, plum, caramel, and a myriad of other flavors.  It has aged gracefully and still has a few years left in a cellar if you have the self-control not to uncork it now! ($90, 14.2%)

To purchase these wines, visit www.abacela.com

*Media Samples

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Layers of Flavor – 2005 Bodegas Resalte Crianza Ribera del Duero

I was just discussing my love for Spanish wines in a post over the weekend and was super excited to open this bottle from Resalte.  It was aged originally for 15 months in 80% French oak and 20% American oak and has had several years to mature since.  It has definitely aged gracefully and won me over at first sip.

About the Wine- From the Winery

2005 Bodegas Resalte Crianza is 100% Tempranillo from the Ribera del Duero region of Spain.  It has 15% alcohol and retails for around $36.  For more information visit the importer at www.tgicimporters.com

Now the Fun Part- Tasting the Wine

Resalte Crianza pours a deep plum color.  The nose is sexy and complex with a bouquet of sweet tobacco, plum, cherry, and toffee.  The palate is rich with layers of flavors.  Plum, toffee, blackberry, and black pepper are followed by tastes of licorice and toffee.  The finish lingers with tastes of toffee, dark fruit, and a hint of smoke.  The depth of the palate is outstanding.  This wine could age a couple more years but is definitely ready to be uncorked now. 

My Wine Rating- A-

Food Pairing Suggestions- Pair Resalte Crianza with grilled steak, spice rubbed pork, or leg of lamb. 

*This wine was sent to me as a media sample

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A Smooth and Balanced Tempranillo- Montecillo Reserva 2006

Montecillo also sent me a bottle of their Reserva Tempranillo from Rioja (yesterday I reviewed the Crianza).  Reserva Reds from Rioja must be aged a minimum of 3 years and then spend 1 year in the cask (if you are interested in learning more about wines from Rioja see www.Riojawine.com).  I was excited to see the progression from the younger Crianza to the Reserva and hoped for a little more balance in the wine.

About the Wine- From the Winery

Motecillo Reserva 2006 is 100% Tempranillo from the Rioja region of Spain.  It has 13.5% alcohol and retails for $18.

Now the Fun Part- Tasting the Wine

The Reserva pours a dark garnet in the glass.  The nose has notes of dark cherry, ripe strawberry, and spice.  The palate is rich and earthy with tastes of cherry, tobacco and lively acidity.  This Tempranillo has a smooth and smokey finish that lingers on a bit.  Montecillo’s Reserva is such a balanced wine and shows the maturity and poise that the Crianza was lacking (and it should only get better with a couple of years).  Grab a bottle and enjoy…it won’t be hard!  Another good wine from Montecillo!

My Wine Rating- B+

Food Pairing Suggestions- This Tempranillo pairs well with a juicy steak, burgers, or roasted lamb

*This wine was sent to me as a sample for the purpose of review

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A Tasty Tempranillo from Rioja- Montecillo Crianza 2007

Last week I received a couple bottles of Montecillo Tempranillo from Rioja.  I am a huge fan of wines from this region for many reasons, including the fact that not only are the wines easy on the palate, but they also are generally incredible values.  The first bottle of the night was Montecillo Crianza 2007.  Montecillo Winery is the 3rd oldest producer in the Rioja region and their Tempranillos have received much critical acclaim.  My husband and I paired the Crianza with our cheese course (which included Manchego and Smoked Cheddar) and hoped we were in for a great start to our meal.

About the Wine- From the Winery

Montecillo Crianza 2007 is 100% Tempranillo from the Rioja region of Spain.  It has 13.5% alcohol and retails for $12.

Now the Fun Part- Tasting the Wine

The Crianza pours a bright ruby in the glass.  It has a musty nose that reels you in with notes of cedar, spice, and sour cherry.  The sour cherry continues on the palate and is surrounded with tobacco, cedar, and dusty tannins. This wine has plenty of acidity and the finish is smokey with a little bit of lingering spice.  Although this Tempranillo could be a little more balanced, it is a tasty, rustic wine that is made for food.  Definitely a nice way to start our evening and an incredible buy for $12!

My Wine Rating- B

Food Pairing Suggestions- This wine pairs well with Manchego or Smoked Cheddar cheese, steaks, burgers, or paella

*This wine was sent to me as a sample for the purpose of review

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