2001 Castillo Labastida Reserva Rioja, Spain

SKU #1036820

90 points and a "Smart Buy" designation from Wine Spectator Advance: "Fresh, firm and long. This balanced red offers crisp cherry, cola, vanilla, tobacco and fresh herb flavors, supported by well-integrated tannins that give way to a spicy floral finish. Drink now through 2011." (3/31/08 Issue) 90 points from Robert Parker's Wine Advocate (no tasting note given.) There are a lot of different styles of Rioja made. Some are sweet and fruity, some are earthy and leathery, some are full of the wares of extended aging in oak, but this one seems to be a perfect blend of all of the above. The nose has hints of sandalwood and clay dust backing a forceful dollop of black cherry fruit. This balance of fruity and earthy flavors is what drives the wine from front to back. The cigar smoke lacings are a perfect foil to the black plum, and the crushed Marionberry is exactly what the layers of licorice need to not be overbearing. This is precise in its balance and a tremendous value in the world of "Reserva" Rioja. (Bryan Brick, K&L Wine Merchants)

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Price: $17.99
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- A very important red grape varietal that's native to Northern Spain, grown across the north and central regions of the country. Low in acid and alcohol, with subtle strawberry, leather and tobacco notes, the grape responds well to oak aging and plays particularly well with others. Tempranillo is an important component, when combined with Garnacha, Mazuelo, Viura and Graciano, of Rioja, with the best examples coming for the cooler, higher-elevation regions like Rioja Alta and Rioja Alavesa. It is also grown in significant quantities in the Ribera del Duero where it is called Tinto Fino and Penèdes where it is called Ull de Llebre o Ojo de Llebre. Tempranillo hasn't gained a particularly strong foothold outside of Spain, achieving some success under the name Tinto Roriz in Portugal. There it is used as a component of Port and in the table wines of the Ribera del Duero and the Dão.


- With more land under vine than any other country in the world, Spain is the great sleeping wine giant. In recent years, a great deal of money and passion has been poured in the burgeoning Spanish wine industry, helping to improve quality among its vast array of wines from sparkling Cava to Sherry to Rioja Gran Reserva. The most important red-wine-producing regions are Rioja, Ribera del Duero and Navarra in the north and Priorat and Penedes in the northeast.