Posted on December 20th, 2009
You’ve probably seen the familar Faustino frosted wired bottles on the shelves of your local supermarket or convenience store like Centra or Spar. They’re pretty much everywhere. Decent wines with no pretensions.
Within the Faustino brand, there are a number of styles and prices. From the Crianzas and Reserva (Faustino VII and Faustino V) to the Gran Reserva (Faustino I) each has something different to offer.
What’s a Gran Reserva, then?
It’s worth quickly taking a step back to talk about the main classifications within Rioja. Essentially, these classifications denote how long the wine has spent hanging around before it gets onto shop shelves.
- Crianza must be aged for a minimum of one year in oak barrel and at least one year in bottle before release;
- Reserva must be aged a minimum of three years in barrel and bottle with at least one which must be in oak;
- Gran Reserva has to be aged for a minimum of two years in oak followed by at least three years in bottle.
So with the Faustino Gran Reservas you usually get a step up in quality (and price) and a perfect choice for the Christmas dinner.
1. Faustino I Rioja Gran Reserva 1996
With that out of the way it’s worth nothing that the 1996 Gran Reserva is doing the rounds in supermarkets at the moment, ranging in price from €16.49 (Tesco) to €19.99 (Dunnes). At €16.49, it’s probably the best value example of a classic Rioja style. Think a medium bodied vanilla, sour cherry, leather and you’ve pretty much nailed a good example of classic Rioja style. A classic Rioja to match a classic Christmas dinner. My one piece of advice: Don’t let it hang around. I tried this again a day after opening (having spent the night in the fridge) and it had all but faded. Indeed, according to Faustino’s notes from their site, it’s at its peak and it may be all downhill from here.
2. Faustina I Rioja Gran Reserva 2001 (Black Label, 75th birthday)
This is also retailing for €19.99 and is dedicated to Don Julio Faustino on the occasion of this 75th birthday. It’s a fuller weightier version of the above 1996 but still all the classic Rioja flavours. Oh, and the label is black, not yellow for this edition. My favourite of the two but still a great match for the turkey and trimmings.
Disclosure: I received the 2001 as a sample from Gilbey’s