Posted on January 15th, 2010
Tesco have their usual deals on at the moment, but this one stands head and shoulders above the rest.
It’s the Castillo San Lorenzo (great name) Rioja Reserva – both 2003 and 2004 vintages are on half price at €7.49.
Remind me what a Reserva is
Reserve or Reserva can mean bloody well anything. It’s completely ambiguious and many wineries use the term with reckless abandon. The consumer thinks it’s a Reserve, it must be good.
Not so in Rioja.
There are a number of designated wine regions where Reserva is a protected name with specific meaning.
In Rioja, there’s a sliding scale or classification scheme for red wines based on the ageing of the wine in the winery before release:
- Crianza: aged for 2 years with at least 6 months in oak. In 2010, the earliest you should see 2007 with the 2008′s coming on stream in the second half of the year.
- Reserva: aged for at least 3 years with at least 1 year in oak barrels.
- Gran Reserva: This is the big momma and in most wineries, they won’t make this in a bad vintage (read shite weather). In terms of ageing, Gran Reservas are required to spend at least two years in oak barrels, and at least another 3 years in the bottle before release.
With that out of the way, what about the Castillo San Lorenzo Reserva?
It has spent two years in oak barrels (twice the minimum requirement) – made from american and french oak. These different species or oak can impart different flavour characteristics.
In classic Rioja styles (i.e. not the uber modern blends with international varieties which include the likes of Cabernet Sauvignon), you’ll often get vanilla and perhaps some leather and cinnamon as well as the ripe red currant, sour cherry or raspberry flavours.
Grapes in the San Lorenzo
The main grape in Rioja is Tempranillo. Thereafter, it can seem to be a bit of a free for all. “Modern” styles are using the likes of Cabernet Sauvignon.
The Castillo San Lorenzo one is Tempranillo, Mazeulo and Graciano, very much a traditional blend.
Plums, spice, cherries on the nose which follows with a very classic flavour profile, which I love: sour cherries, redcurrants, vanilla and a little hint of spice. High acidity, like a Pinot Noir, and smooth, low-key tannins. Long lasting too, lingering around on the tastebuds for quite a while after a sip. A bit of earthiness there too.
Brilliant wine. At the normal price of €15, it would appeal to the Rioja lovers out there, but at half the price, it’s simply unmissable.
Available in Tesco nationwide or online from tesco.ie (if you can figure out how to use the infernal website).
Handpicked related content
- Robert Macintosh on the YouToobs, talking about the Gran Reserva from Castillo San Lorenzo. Robert does a bit of work for this winery as well managing his own sites thirstForRioja.co.uk, wineconversation.com and of course on the Twitters.
- Tómas Clancy, one my favourite mainstream wine writers had this to day in his Sunday Business Post article from March 9th, 2008, “This is a bargain not to be missed. It is a really well put together, luscious and enjoyable Rioja of the New Wave, with plenty of soft, ripe black fruits such as blackcurrant and plum, touches of dark chocolate and hints of kir, all