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TASTING NOTES: Aging gracefully in Spain
We’re doing a circuit through a few Spanish wine regulations this week, and I promise it’ll be way more fun than that sounds! You see, once you’ve got a handle of some key words constantly seen on the wine labels of Spain, you’ll gain a good understanding of what to expect in the bottle and the effort that’s gone into it. These wines all have a good dose of age on them, allowing the opportunity for tannins to integrate and layers of flavour to develop. As an added bonus, this week’s column acts as a reminder of the phenomenal value the country constantly provides.
Hacienda López de Haro 2008 Crianza | Rioja, Spain | $20-ish | Private Wine Stores
Not only does the fact this wine is from Rioja give us a pretty good odds that it contains a good dose of Tempranillo, but seeing that it’s a crianza assures us it was aged at least two years with a minimum six months aging in oak before it left the winery. While this has obviously even had a couple more years to develop since then, the dark and brambly purple fruit is pretty lush and juicy, a little vanilla bean offers depth and clean acidity keeps it fresh.
Faustino V 2006 Rioja Reserva | Rioja, Spain | $25.95 | BC Liquor Stores
If you like your Spanish reds to be a little dusty, leathery and heavy on the funk, then this one’s for you. Further along the maturing rules, any reserva out of Spain has to have been aged a minimum of three years with at least one of ‘em in oak. Dried berry fruit, herbs and potpourri on the nose lead to fruit leather, pastrami, dates and a little sip of cola on the finish.
Anciano 2005 Tempranillo Gran Reserva ‘Aged 7 Years’ | Valdepeñas, Spain | $12.99 | BC Liquor Stores
Spanish gran reservas top everything out with a minimum five years of age under their belts, including at least 18 months of that in oak and then three years in the bottle. I was really impressed with how clean and focused this guy was, figuring that’s some considerable time spent to have evolved in bottle. Black licorice, spearmint and currants jump right out of the glass, giving way to stewed cherries, blackberries and a wallop of pepper. The price is ridiculously low, but between Oct. 27 and Nov. 24 things will get outright absurd when they knock an extra buck off at BC Liquor Stores.
Anciano 2002 Tempranillo Gran Reserva ‘Aged 10 Years | Valdepeñas, Spain | $15.99 | BC Liquor Stores
Speaking of value, the previous wine’s big brother has even more age on it, and those lovely secondary flavours from its maturation really start to show through. Fruity tobacco, beef jerky, blueberries and cloves swirl together while a wisp of smoke lightly permeates the whole thing. With that amount of age and complexity, $15.99 is a pretty killer deal, but for the month of December it’ll be going down to $13.99. Merry Christmas, indeed.