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Cosme Palacio y Hermanos (Rioja) 1998
This has always been a very fine Rioja in recent years, a limited production of selelcted Tempranillo grapes, aged in French oak barrels for 10 months prior to bottling. Using French oak, as opposed to Rioja's more ususal American oak, instills a slightly more subtle, sophisticated vanilla toastiness to this wine than many in the price range. The nose is softly layered with sweet summer berry and plummy fruits, wrapped in a cloak of spicy, mellow, tobacco and vanilla. On the palate it has a warming core of fine tannins and gutsy ripe fruit, but there is also a medium-bodied elegance and savoury, moresish sweet fruit-cakey mid-palate. The finish is very well balanced, and the oaky tannins will soften over a few years cellaring. Long and delicious Rioja.

£6.99 Safeway, also in Oddbins