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Rioja Alavesa tasting notes

text and photographs © 2011 Tom Cannavan

These notes accompany our in-depth feature on Rioja Alavesa.

Marqués de Riscal

UK Agent: Enotria. See all stockists on wine-searcher.

Marqués de Riscal, Rueda Blanco 2009
85% Verdejo, 15% Viura. Bright, ferny, pea pod aromatics, with grapefruit and a touch of lychee and grapefruit peel. Bold, fruity palate with good tropical fruit sweetness and a grapefruit acidity soon sweeps it up with that slightly bitter Verdejo nip in the finish. Mouth-filling, but crisp and well-balanced. 86/100.

Marqués de Riscal, Finca Montico 2008
100% Verdejo, from 20-year-old vines, stays on lees for several months. Darker colour, and a touch of pineapple and custard on the nose. Plenty of that vivid tropical fruit, fewer green notes. On the palate has a very rich mouth feel, with a massive hit of sweet fruit and a lots of silkiness. Again a good apple and grapefruit acidity freshens this, but it has huge presence with a tangerine, exotic punch. 88/100.

Marqués de Riscal, Limousin Cask Fermented 2008
100% Verdejo from 40-year-old vines, fermented and spending 5 - 6 months in French oak, actually from Alliers, not Limousin, in 300-litre format. Plenty of toasty vanilla notes, with the creamy oak prominent at this stage with custardy richness and a little touch of Verdejo leafiness. The palate is drier than the Montico with a food friendly, racy finish of lemon and mineral acidity. 88/100.

Marqués de Riscal, Viña Collada 2008
Also sold as Proximo in UK. Mostly Tempranillo with a touch of Graciano and Mazuelo aged in very old, basically inert barrels. A touch of earthy spice, a slightly dank quality, and lacking a bit of fruit on the mid-palate. 80/100.

Marqués de Riscal, Reserva 2005
90% Tempranillo plus Graciano and Mazuelo, 26 months in American oak. More than a touch of Brettanomyces here, with leathery and horsey aromas that detract hugely. Red fruit beneath is fruity and has a touch of vanilla. The palate has a dry, sweet fruit, with crisp tannins and good acidity, but it is very dry on the finish. 83/100.

Marqués de Riscal, Finca Torrea 2006
90% Tempranillo and Graciano, with 14 months in Alliers oak. Touch of cedar and a touch of spice, with plenty of fresh raspberry and cherry fruit. The freshness on the palate is excellent, with lots of dry, savoury tannins and a long, earthy but red fruited finish. A balanced food wine. 88/100.

Marqués de Riscal Rioja Gran Reserva 2001
85% Tempranillo, 10% Graciano, 5% 'other' (Cabernet Sauvignon). 32 months in oak, all with table-sorted grapes. A touch of balsamic and spice, but much, much cleaner than the Reserva, with a gentle meatiness against very good red berry fruit. This tastes very young still, with the fruit reserved and tightly embraced by grippy but fine tannins and nicely charry and dense oak. 90/100.

Marqués de Riscal, Rioja Baron de Chirel 2005
Tempranillo with 15% Cabernet. In 66% French and 34% American oak for 24 months. Smoky, lightly charry notes but it is the fruit that drives this wine, with bold, sweet, cassis and hints of cocoa and mint, but tightly-wound and muscular fruit, with a meatiness and a tobacco touch. The palate has lovely silkiness and very pure fruit on the palate, with very smoky and silky tannins, but in the finish the fruit is what persists through the spicy, espresso touches. Gamey and rich, with good fruit. 93/100.

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