26 October, 2009

Spain for the sake of Spain -- 2004 Vicuana Rioja and 2007 Atecca Garnacha

As you may have heard, the 20dollarwineblog.com crew is heading to The Iberian Peninsula (Spain and Portugal) for the European Wine Bloggers Conference in Lisbon next week and as a preview to that, I thought we'd post a double feature on a couple of treats we recently came across. 

First, the 2004 Vicuana Rioja from Bodegas Bilbainas is a wine in the style you'd find on the modern Spanish table. It's a new stylistic approach to Rioja and as such, was a bit of a challenge for me. Not in the wine, but in the style...it wasn't expected, but it certainly was enjoyed. Much as the new world, expecially California, often puts it's own fingerprint on a style of wine the D.O. of Rioja has a long established style that I've become accustomed to. It's bold and beautiful and very much it's own thing. Tempranillo as you likely know is the main red grape of La Rioja, and its tannic and fruity character has led the way in determining the style. Super!

I'd heard musings recently, that things were changing a bit in Rioja and that some exporters we're asking for a bit of a more modern style from their producers. This seems to be the case for this wine with it's moderated, but vivacious fruit leads the charge in the nose and the front abounds with dark berries but is toned with nuances of tobacco, wood and moss. Certainly a new thing! I recently heard this wine described by someone saying "..it has impressive tenacity". I'd have to agree with that one. I'd like to enjoy this with grilled lamb or a burger.

2004 Bodegas Bilbainas Vicuana Rioja Tempranillo
Retail: $14
Grade: B+
If you're asking "how do grades work?" please see the post on "grades."

Next, the 2007 Bodegas Ateca Calatayud is quite a different creature. I'm pretty certain it's been created for the foreign market (it's from Jorge Ordonez) with it's more juicy highlights, brighter profile and leaner body. It brings some nicely presented anise and dusky dark berries on the nose with a mellow, round finish. It's clean & bright and I can't stop from thinking that when the winemaker created this, he was aiming for "HAPPY." Of course, with Old Vine Garnacha producing the fruit here, we enjoy the concentrated, but brisk flavors that deliver  without an overbearing tone and without force. I can't see anyone drinking this and being anything but happy. Seafood, especially in a paella, would pair wonderfully here.

2007 Bodegas Ateca Atteca Calatayud Garnacha
Retail: $17
Grade: B+

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