Old Rioja

When people find out that you are interested in wine and write a blog they often ask you to name your favourite wine. To which I always reply: ‘old Rioja’. So I was very interested to try a bottle Geoff has had for years, a 1996 Faustino 1, served cool – a perfect temperature. In the glass the wine still looked fairly youthful, bright red with a brown rim, there was an old-school smokey/tarry nose, albeit not as pronounced as some I’ve tried. The taste was pure, linear, a bit ‘Galloway’s Cough Syrup’ – ask your Dad – not a bad thing. Later a vegetal, farmyard aroma developed – again a desirable characteristic in old Rioja. However an overall impression was of a rather restrained wine. Still very enjoyable and Geoff kindly gave me the bottle to finish off with some pork chops. I’ve always avoided this wine in the past because of the label but I’d certainly try another, perhaps the 2004 from Asda, at a bargain £13.

[Geoff: I’m pleased that Richard enjoyed this more than I did, hence me giving the wine to a good friend who would appreciate it. I find many Riojas over-rated; vanilla – yes; farmyard/savoury – yes; fruit – some, but often masked by the oak influence. My issue with them is a lack of refinement. Bluntly put, they can taste like ordinary red wines left in oak barrels for a long period of time which covers up their blandness. That, and the lack of subtle fruits and freshness. There are exceptions, of course, the most notable being the half-bottle of 1964 Rioja (blogged) which was gorgeous.]

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