I never can resist a good Rioja. My favorite red wines are dry and smooth but bold, with lots of complex flavors. Riojas nearly always hit the mark for me. Red Rioja is a classic, bold red wine, made mostly from Tempranillo grapes, which lend flavors of plum, dark berries, leather, dry herbs, and a very noticeable (but pleasant) dusty earth taste. I recently broke open a bottle of 2004 Marques de Riscal Reserva Rioja that I had around, and I really enjoyed it. My first thought: to share with you!
The Herederos del Marques de Riscal has been around since 1858, when it became the first winery in Rioja to produce Bordeaux-style wines. The Tempranillo vines that produce grapes for this wine are over 15 years old. The Reserva wines of this vineyard spend two years in American oak barrels, giving them complexity and tannins.
This particular wine has a complex spice aroma, tannins that are noticeable but not overpowering (it could benefit from a good decanting or some time to breathe), and a soft finish. Like all good Riojas it's a smooth, easy-drinking wine that pairs well with food, but even better with good conversation. The ideal wine for a casual get-together, it pleases many palates. And for about $15, it won't put a dent in your budget.