Spanish wines is a great love affair of mine. To me, this country’s wines offer great quality at reasonable prices, something that sadly can’t be said often of other old world wine producing countries. Generally, I find most Spanish wineries age their wines beyond the minimum mandated period required for a Crianza, Reserva or Gran Reserva wine. The underlying principle seems to be that wines should be sold only when they are ready to be consumed, not when they are officially allowed to be released commercially. Although these wines are kept longer in the cellar, the additional holding costs don’t always translate to higher selling prices for the consumer.
For wine aficionados, Rioja together with Ribera del Duero and Priorat form the holy trinity of the best red wine producing regions in the country. Rioja comprises of three sub regions, the Rioja Baja, Rioja Alta and Rioja Alavesa (Alava). Baja is located in the lowlands where the high temperatures result in wines with high alcohol but low acidity and fruit characters. On the other hand, Alta and Alavesa are the premium growing regions. The vineyards are located at higher altitudes where the cooler climate ensures a longer and even ripening period for the grapes, which results in greater colour and fruit flavour development across the whole spectrum, while retaining moderate alcohol and acidity. Of the three sub regions, Alavesa is closest to the Atlantic Ocean which gives it a further cooling boost. The Alavesa soil also has the highest concentration of limestone which adds complexity to wines from this sub region.
Our featured wine of this article, the Julian Madrid Reserva 2011 comes from Bodegas Casa Primicia in Alavesa. This wine is a fine example of patient wine making with great quality grapes from premium vineyards. In fact, the Spanish don’t so much call it wine making than wine elaboration. The concept is to take the best fruits available from the land through careful nurturing of the vines, and gently nudge the inputs towards their fullest potential.
The Julian Madrid Reserva is a blend of Tempranillo and other Rioja grapes including Graciano and Garnacha, taken off 50 year old vines. The wine is then aged in French and American oak barrels for 20 months before undergoing further bottle ageing for 4 years. The 2011 is the latest vintage released by the winery. In contrast, the official minimum ageing requirement for a Rioja Reserva is 3 years, with at least 1 year in oak.
Beautiful dark red in colour, I find the Julian Madrid Reserva possesses dark fruit aromas of blackcurrants and cherries intermixed with a slight spicy note. In the mouth, the dark fruit profile and spice follow through with secondary flavours of leather and herb appearing once the wine opens up. The tannins are well integrated after extended bottle ageing, while the wine continues to show fresh acidity. This wine drinks well on its own, but it will be perfect with lamb and beef especially.
The Julian Madrid Reserva 2011 was awarded Best Rioja Reserve and Gold at Mundus Vini 2017, one of the world’s top wine and spirits competition. It has also been rated 90 points by Robert Parker. The wine has been on our Top 40 Best Selling Wines twice since we started compiling the list in 2015 and we expect it to be on the list again this year. The wine is available online and in our Tanjong Pagar bottle shop. For a top grade Rioja Reserva, the price of SGD 57 is a real steal. The next time you are looking for a surprise package, do give this a try. Or simply step into our shop for a chat or better yet, open a bottle to enjoy with friends and associates.