75cl * 13% ABV * Rioja, Spain
"Red wine of the year 2021" Tim Atkin (Master of Wine)
"Magnificent" Neal Martin (Vinous)
Founded in 1890, La Rioja Alta combines traditional practices with modern winemaking. Only old vine fruit is used (naturally) for intensity and richness, which is then aged for over four years in top quality American oak barrels made in-house. And then there's a further four years of bottle ageing before the wine is released. You can't say they don't put the work in... For those with an aversion to oak, look away now - this is unashamedly full-throttle Rioja, showing notes of toasted coconut and charred wood underneath a wash of ripe plummy fruit. There's plenty of complexity too, in its menthol freshness and tobacco smoke. Whilst it's hard to keep your hands off it at this young stage, it will develop superbly over the next few decades. Drink to 2050. Pair with roasted suckling pig or daube of venison.