Such a pleasure to taste a big Rioja Gran Reserva like this Barón de Ley. Its traditional coconut and vanilla aromas from oak ageing were perfectly balanced by a pronounced black cherry and plum character. A Rioja Gran Reserva that tasted exactly as we were expecting.
Information: Rioja Gran Reserva Barón de Ley
- Variety: Rioja blend
- Vintage: 2011
- Producer: Barón de Ley
- Region / Country: Rioja, Spain
WSET Level 3 Systematic Approach to Tasting Wine©
- Clarity: clear
- Intensity: deep
- Colour: ruby
- Condition: clean
- Intensity: pronounced
- Aroma characteristics: cooked and dried red fruit (cherry, plum) and black fruit (black cherry). Vanilla, toast, mushroom, smoke.
- Development: developing
- Sweetness: dry
- Acidity: medium (+)
- Tannin: medium (+)
- Alcohol: medium
- Body: medium (+)
- Flavour intensity: pronounced
- Flavour characteristics: cooked black fruit, coconut, vanilla, tobacco, leather
- Finish: medium
- Quality level: very good
- Level of readiness for drinking/potential for ageing: can drink now, but has potential for further ageing
As stated before, this Rioja Gran Reserva tasted exactly as expected: a bold, expressive red wine, perfectly balanced and showing complex aromas of dried black cherry, plum, vanilla and coconut. Its tertiary aromas of tobacco, leather and mushrooms revealed a great bottle ageing and predicted a safe evolution.
Is that a good thing, though? That a certain wine taste like it should, according to appellation laws and regulations? It is, for sure, if you’re a student still trying to understand – and easily recognise – the most important wines of the world. It’s also what syndicates and federations seek, in order to create a well-defined profile for a wine that is able to promote a certain geographic area.
Ironically, it’s not always what wine producers look for. In a world that tries to homogenise and eliminate all that is outside of standard guidelines, wine producers fight to make a unique and distinguishable product. That vanilla and coconut from American oak that once characterised all Rioja wines is starting to be left aside, and new oak ageing profiles are more frequently seen now in Rioja.
Where do you place yourself in this battle? If it was up to you, would you try to create a new style of Rioja Gran Reserva, or would you do everything you can to make it exactly as it should be?
As in life, sometimes we have to choose black or white, all or nothing. Is grey a possibility, or a need, in wine production? Share your views.