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wine of the week

6th December 2009

Castillo de Albai, Rioja Reserva 2005, Spain
The 2005 vintage was a beauty in most of Europe, and the balance and elegance of the Tempranillo fruit in this Rioja Reserva shines through. The Castillo de Albai label is part of the large Felix Solis group of Spanish bodegas, and here they've made a very modern, expressive Rioja that surprised me when I read it had been aged in 100% new American oak barrels: there's none of the overblown vanilla extract and coconut character that might suggest. Instead the wine is spicy and cedary, with tobbaco edges to fresh red berry and cherry fruit. In the mouth the wine has lovely mid-palate concentration of fruit, with refined tannins and a juicy structure. Good value too at an honest price. £7.48, Asda.

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