Choosing wine for dinner may be a real pleasure. However, the content of the bottle that we are going to open, shouldn’t be something unknown to us – it is worth to enrich our knowledge about wines, both the classic as well as the modern ones.
Old and new types of wine are to be found in regions with long winemaking traditions. Also, the wine-producing regions of Tokaj, Tuscany, and Piedmont provide such an alternative. One can easily name examples of different styles of Bordeaux; these are also clearly distinguishable in the Spanish Rioja region.
Rioja region is a perfect example of centuries-old traditions – the first mention of viticulture in Rioja dates back to 873. The classic style, that we know today, was created in the 18th century, owing to the experience of Bordeaux winemakers. French oak barrel was replaced with the American one, due to its price. Its effect on wine along with its vanilla note remained for long the defining feature of the classic Tempranillo variety. Aged long in barrels, it shows tones of vanilla, tobacco, and leather beside the fruit aromas.
The wine list of Dr Irena Eris SPA Hotels includes three wines from the Tempranillo variety. The rst of them is a perfect example of old style – Tondonia Tinto Reserva Rioja, López de Heredia. This wine is put on the market very late. A proof of that is the current vintage of Reserva – 2002. It is aged for six years in American barrels and then rests in excellent conditions until it becomes perfect for drinking. This is the philosophy adopted by the vineyard and such “funds freezing” deserves respect. Tannins are soft and sometimes rounded. The wine still shows great fruitiness enhanced by characteristic tones of maturing. These slightly vanilla, nut, and tobacco aromas are the classic nuances of the “old” Rioja. Despiteitsage,itisgoodtopourlaRiojainto a decanter and slowly enjoy its avor. This will change minute by minute.
What will you choose next time you confront Tempranillo – the royal grape variety of Spain?
The second wine, Reserva Tinto Rioja, Bodega Muga, represents a style oscillating between classic and modern. On one hand, a lot of classic vini cation methods are used, and on the other, there are some that add a more modern touch to this wine. Classic wines are often clari ed with egg white. This is the case of both Tondonia and Muga. Do not be afraid of this method, as it disquali es wine only in the vegan diet. Its advantage is the neutral impact on the wine aroma. Until today it remains one of the least invasive methods, except from decanting wine from above the sediment, applied to get rid of the wine’s turbidity and to soften tannins.
Muga is, however, aged in new barrels, which strongly mark their presence with sweeter tones. Muga is put on the market earlier. Its fruitiness is more vivid and the wine is more concentrated. These are the features that contribute to Muga’s modern character.
The full modern style is represented in the wine list by Enebral from the Toro region – located south-west of Rioja and strongly in uenced by the Atlantic. Enebral is in itself a concentrate of wine. Its alcoholic strength of 14% is well integrated with its fruity and barrel nature. Tannins are clearly felt, but have no dryness.They are round and fruity. Enebral will satisfy the lovers of essential wines with jam aromas.
All three wines go well with red meat, however, the wine from Toro is recommended particularly for lightly roasted beef steak, and the classic Rioja Tondonia for lamb long roasted at a low temperature. It’s time for your decision. I hope now, when you confront Tempranillo – the royal grape variety of Spain – the decision will be easier and will bring you a lot of pleasure.
Polish representative in the World's Best Sommelier Competition in 2007. Creator of the most popular video blog on wine www.4senses.tv. Author of the wine list in Dr Irena Eris SPA Hotels.