I was telling my wife last night: “I would bet a tidy sum that I could identify a classic Rioja red tasting blindly.” There’s no other wine I know of that shares this fruit profile literally bathed in American oak. And today’s example certainly emphasizes this so very well. It’s the Rioja Reserva bottling from Bodegas Bilbainas. Aged 18 months in American oak (20% new), and then left in bottle two years before release, this is a textbook example of why traditional Rioja still claims a loyal following. Add the fact that the wine is a relative bargain, and you have a go-to red for the coming fall menus.
2012 Viña Pomal Reserva, Bodegas Bilbainas $20 srp
Rounded and oh-so-typical Rioja nose. Flowers, light berry, bramble and a warm dose of American oak that wraps around your sinuses like a fragrant leather glove. There’s something “autumnal” here, suggesting long walks in the woods. Flavors are medium-bodied, but lithe and easygoing. Suggestions of bright red currant, cranberry and a dusty element appear along with a nice final kick of refreshment. This is balanced and refined, although it took a good six hours to open up completely. So, please decant or uncork early! Drink now-2021.