More specifically, it’s the more youthful “crianza” and “joven” wines from Rioja that go best with a variety of grilled foods and lighter picnic fare. They are made to be consumed within a few years of release and aren’t aged more than a year in oak barrels, a requirement for their older “reserva” and “gran reserva” siblings that can make them monstrously heavy and complex.
Amazingly – thanks to the lingering economic sluggishness –two of our favorites that we’ve been recommending for nearly two years are still on store shelves (and still widely on sale for between $9 and $13 a bottle). Yet much of the joy of drinking wine comes from trying something new. So if you like that style, but want an alternative to Bodegas LAN Rioja Crianza 2006 or 2009 Montebuena Rioja, you can pick up a bottle of 2008 Ares Rioja Crianza, a $15 to $20 wine currently on sale for $9.99.
“Spice box, leather, violets, incense, and blackberry aromas inform the nose of a savory, elegantly-styled Crianza with excellent volume and balance,” wrote Miller in the June 2011 issue of Wine Advocate. “It can be approached now but has enough structure to drink well through 2020.”
Wines on sale for $9.99 aren’t typically ones that you stash away in the cellar for another seven or eight years of bottle age. And most everyday wine drinkers don’t have the patience to ignore these deliciously youthful but elegant Spanish wines. But at $10 a bottle, it might be worth buying a case and hiding a few bottles from yourself to see what they taste like two ... five ... eight years from now. It certainly wouldn’t be an expensive experiment.
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