An excellent tasting put together by Ben Stephenson, formerly of Harvey Nichols, Manchester, and (it would seem) mover and shaker in Manc wine circles.
Ben assembled an eclectic colleciton of wines, and with lovely tapas-style nibbles provided by the hosts, Market Restaurant,, we pressed on. Forumites were present - Steve S, Gunn G and Ivan D.
2001 Monte Real Reserva
Clear red. Modest nose, gently oaky and smooth. Medium bodied, with smooth gentle red fruit and a hint of meaty flavours. Tannins are soft and the acidity is good, with gentle spice and grip on the mid palate. Nice balanced length. Textbook rioja. VG/VGI
1985 Reserva Blanco, Marques de Murietta
Deep gold, burnished. Oaky oxidised nose with a whiff of varnish. Super smooth on the palate with a caramel edge to the flavours. Good acidity keeps the wine quite fresh, while the wine reveals several layers to the flavour profile. Good long length. A lovely example of the style, and very much alive. VGI
1964 Semi Dulce Reserva Blanco, Monte Real
Unbelievably star bright brassy gold. Muted nose, smelling of cheesy puffs, yet with a pure edge. Soft, very soft, with a creamy viscosity to the mouthfeel and soft yet slightly unctuous flavours. The length is not huge in breadth, but the flavours linger for quite a while. Overall, itís off dry as opposed to being fully sweet, with gentle honeysuckle flavours. Elegant, with hardly any oxidation evident. VGI/Excellent
1995 Reserva, Roda 1
Deep red with a slightly opaque core. Herby fruit on a tight nose. Left to open up, the wine is richly fruity with a touch of coconut infused with both red and black fruit. Tannins are good quality and are supportive yet balanced. Well structured, with a long warm flavoursome length. Excellent.
1982 Gran Reserva, Monte Real
Some bricking on the rim. Slightly stinky nose, suggesting a touch of brett. Soft and smooth on the palate, with gentle vanilla oak, a touch of prunes and a mature fruit core. It dries out slightly on the back of the palate as it moves towards a slightly attenuated finish. VGI/Excellent
1982 Gran Reserva, Marques de Caceres
Rather deeper in colour than the Monte Real. Medium intensity nose, with some chocolate aromas, with gentle oak and a subtle richness. Rather more grippy on the palate, with good levels of fruit and a warm spicy wrapper. Clean palate, with some smoky elements, and comes across as a rather younger wine Ė say, 1994. However, itís a touch less complex than the Monte Real Ė while the fruit is much more youthful, there is a lack of character and the wine is somewhat dilute on the finish. VGI.
1982 Gran Reserva, Conde de Salceda
Pale, clear, with a bit of bricking. Lovely aromatic nose, slightly high toned with some savoury elements showing. Warm and evolved on the palate, but very quickly finishes well short, with a dried out finish. This is starting to unravel, and is rather attenuated. Shame, as it was initially promising. VG/VGI
1973 Bodegas Senorio Agos
Bricking edge, pale red core. Old pruney nose, like stewed fruit, with a touch of volatility. Sweet old fruit on the palate, with some gentle spice and a slightly spirity edge. Gently persistent, soft, and the length isnít bad at all. Fades a bit with time, but nonetheless oddly enjoyable. VGI.
1970 Vina Salceda
Corked to buggery.
1970 Gran Reserva, Vina Monty
Nose is totally medicinal Ė like Germolene, followed by a blast of wet dog hair. Sweet fruit, but volatile, unbalanced and short. This is not healthy. Not rated.
1964 Reserva, Monte Real
Surprisingly deep colour with little bricking. Lovely gentle meaty nose with gently fruity richness and a hint of chocolate. Lovely fruit on the palate, showing surprising depth and layers of complexity. Thereís a tiny hint of VA, but very subtle. Soft yet spicy tannins, lovely savoury layered flavours and a long warm lingering finish. Itís slightly drying out at the end, but not overwhelmingly so. What a lovely wine! Excellent / outstanding
1956 Reserva, Monte Real
Deep medium red with a tawny edge. Gentle nose of prunes and dried fruit, with a slightly spirity, porty edge to the nose. Itís slightly muted on the palate, with a hint of TCA, but itís not badly affected. Smooth fruit with good length. Still very drinkable despite the TCA. Drying finish, more so than the 1964. Enjoyable despite not being in the best condition. VGI / Excellent
1944 Reserva, Monte Real
Deep red with not much evidence of age. Rather medicinal nose of germoline. This aroma also comes across on the palate at first, but itís less apparent. Smooth grip on the palate, with drying tannins, but surprising depth. Really fascinating, with lovely fading residual fruit and a really good length. Is this really over 60 years old? Wow! Excellent.
Maybe Master Ben should be introduced to the delights of wine-pages offlines. Thanks for notes though Ray. Must look out for really old rioja ,as I am not a great fan of under 20 year old examples I have tried.
Where's the green envy icon, when you need one.
-------------------- Mark -------------------------------- If you don't want to see the score, look away now. "For when the One Great Scorer comes / To mark against your name / He writes Ė not that you won or lost / But how you played the Game." Grantland Rice Posts: 13428 | From: Dorset, England | Registered: Jan 2005
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Old Rioja rocks! The '81 Monte Real was a wonderful wine and I must have drunk about a dozen of them. We had the '64 available briefly here but it was too expensive for me - seems like I missed something truly special.
-------------------- I don't drink wine because of religious reasons ... only for other reasons. Posts: 5488 | From: Helsinki, Finland | Registered: Jan 2005
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I agree totally re the 1981 Monte Real. I had about 6 over a two year period. A lovely wine. A local (well, Manchester) pub / wine bar / restaurant is currently selling the 1978 - again, a lovely wine.
Firstly thanks to Ray for writing up some notes for my tasting on Friday. I was really pleased that the wines showed so well considering their age. If anything this tasting proves that Tempranillo is certainly a world class varietal. We will probably see plantings increase around the world - just look at the experimental offering from Yalumba, the hand-picked TGV (Tempranillo/Grenache/Viognier), which is stunningly seductive & velvety.
I am planning some more tastings later on this year, so watch this space - the website is currently under construction!
I wish Manchester city centre had an independent wine shop - don't you?
Posts: 2 | From: Manchester | Registered: Jun 2007
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Ray/Ben (anyone) Were these older bottles like a Tondonia or a different style ? My previous experience with early 80's Rioja have not been very rewarding (La Rioja Alta 904) but I may have been unlucky.
Posts: 6703 | From: London | Registered: Apr 2004
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RayQ - Like Steve, I've not had a Tondonia, but do have a case of 1981 stashed away somewhere! Most of the early 1980s riojas have been very smooth and velvety, with a hint of prunes. They have always been very enjoyable. The 1981 Monte Real was a case in point, but the 1982 Montecillo Gran Reserva Especial is also a really nice wine. Most of these wines do not have an excess of fruit, the Marques de Caceres being the exception (and, I believe, suffering for it).
I can't speak for the 904, my only example being a lovely 1985. Moving into the later 1980s, the Ygay 1987 and 1989 wines are beautiful at this moment in time.
good to hear Sam's has got the 78 back in stock - had this and the 81 on numerous occasions in there and great value for money (the 81 was £40).
-------------------- As I was sipping a glass of wine whilst sitting with my wife, she says, "I love you so much, I donít know how I could ever live without you...." I asked, "Is that you, or the wine talking?" She replied, "Itís me.....talking to the wine." Posts: 651 | From: Manchester | Registered: Sep 2004
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I popped into The Sampler in Islington on Saturday afternoon, and they had 1976 Tondonia Blanco available for tasting (among many other fun bits and pieces, such as 2001 Yquem, heh). The Tondonia was an absolutely cracking wine - slightly but certainly not excessively oxidative, zinging acidity, and a big hit with both Nicki and myself. If it hadn't been for me travelling with only hand baggage, I'd certainly have picked some up.
Steve, Tondonia and Bosconia are Lopez de Heredia wines made in a 'traditional'style and designed to age for a long period. The Tondonia is not to my taste (though I quite like the Bosconia) but many people rave about it.
Ray, thanks for your reply it is hard to tell without being able to calibrate palates. As a HUGE generalisation the lack of a hint of fruit in some older Spanish wines is why I rarely cellar older wines. Perhaps I'm missing out on something!