This lovely wine is currently in the sale; usual price £19.75)
Rioja is one of the two Spanish wine regions with the highest qualification level, DoCa, the other region being Priorat. There is so much Rioja on the UK market and much of it over-priced, over-oaked and rather characterless in style. This is not such a wine; it comes from a new breed of producers combining modern technologies and traditional methods to get the best out of the Tempranillo grape. Bodegas Altanza do not blend the Tempranillo with other grapes and age the wine in French rather than American oak as they believe it produces a more elegant wine and does not mask the fruit aromas.
This Selección de Familia is also known and labelled as Lealtanza Reserva Rioja and, in terms of aromas and taste, it is a top quality, classic Rioja. Despite the 18 months in new oak barrels and three months in oak vats (note - 12 months in oak and a minimum 36 months total ageing is required for Reserva status), the fruit is not overpowered by intense vanilla like some Riojas; instead it is really fruit-driven with subtle sweet spices. On the nose, raspberries, blackberries, ripe plums, cloves and white pepper and the complex palate includes sweet black fruit - cherries, blackberries - plus raspberries, plums, sweet spices and a subtle hint of chocolate and leather. There is a slight grip on the finish from the tannins which, with the acidity, give it some oomph but the tannins are not coarse and the wine has a lovely, velvety texture and a long, slightly sweet finish, characteristic of Rioja.
Recommended to drink with game, duck, goose, steak and other red meats, paella
This wine would benefit from being allowed to breathe for an hour before consumption
"Our family Selection provides an elegant mix between the fruit coming from the Tempranillo and its ageing in French oak. Complex, elegant and good structure are the words defining this wine... Cherry colour and garnet highlights... liquorice which comes from the Tempranillo, sweet aromas, cherries, dry fruits and smoky scents from the quality ageing... also almonds and a general sweetness like a complex fruit compote. It maintains a freshness in the mouth. It is round and its smooth passage reminds us of the sweetness and delicacy of the French oak and its spices, balsamic, and black fruits, it is a very balanced wine in the mouth with hints of blackberry and smoke."
90 points Decanter Premium Rioja Tasting 2017