Thursday, April 20, 2017

The Desert Wine Guy - 2008 Castillo D Clavijo Rioja Gran Reserva

   Well readers here we are, together once again for another wonderful wine review. I trust that  everyone had a great Easter Sunday and got to spend plenty of time relaxing with the family. Let's go ahead now and get started and see what I thought about our review wine. To begin here, I have to say that based upon the majority wine varietal in this wine I found today's review to be very interesting to me to say the least. The wine I will be reviewing today is the 2008 Castillo D Clavijo Rioja Gran Reserva This wine is in a red blend with the predominate varietal being that of Tempranillo. The wine is blended with three (3) other Spanish Red varietals as well which we will look at in a minute. The wine comes from Bodegas Criadores de Rioja winery in Rioja Spain. The winery which was established in 2000 operates just over Two (2) miles of Vineyards. The winery and properties were constructed with the "purpose of balancing tradition with innovation" says the owners. The wines themselves are made by Paloma Redondo and judging from this little example that I am reviewing today, they are indeed crafted extremely well.
   Let's start this review off first with a little education for those of you who don't know anything about the Rioja region which is located in North-central Spain.  Lets start at the beginning however, shall we?  The word "Rioja" itself is a derivation of the two words "Rio" (River) and "Oja" (name of a tributary of the Ebro, located near the region's southwestern boundary). La Rioja includes the areas of La Rioja, Navarre and the Basque province of Alava. The Rioja itself is divided into three (3) different zones which include Rioja Alta, Rioja Baja and Rioja Alavesa. The La Rioja area has around 500 wineries and the region is also known as well for sausage making which goes rather nicely with Tempranillo might I add.

   The wine as I have previously said is a blend of three (3) other Spanish Red grape varietals that by the way are also commonly blended with the Tempranillo varietal. In this wine there are the varietal reds of 10% Garnacha, 10% Graciano, 10% Mazuelo. The wine sits at an alcohol percentage on the slightly low end being at 12.5%. Because it is a "Gran Reserva" we (should) automatically know that this wine was aged in wooden barrels for a longer time than what is considered "normal". In this case the wine sat in both American & French Oak for twenty four (24) months and was than transferred to the bottle where it sat for an additional Thirty Six (36) months. Well with all that being said let's move ahead to my thoughts on this Rioja Red blend.
Now, those of you who follow me should also know by now that the Tempranillo varietal is my ultimate favorite varietal when it comes to a nice dark, spicy, red but for those of you who are new to The Desert Wine Guy here is a little tip. If you ever want to send me a present, a nice bottle of Tempranillo is the varietal that will endear you in my heart. For those of you have ever had this particular varietal you know exactly what I mean about the spice / pepper components in the wine  and for those of you who don't I really believe that you owe it to yourself to check out the varietal known as Tempranillo. As a side note before we move on here, the varietal has inspired me to actually rip up my Sauvignon Blanc vines which were planted in Mirror Image Vineyard and plant Tempranillo vines there instead with hopes that the Las Vegas heat won't make me regret my decision, I actually put a name to these hopes which I call "The Tempranillo Experiment". For those of you who follow my wine ONLY Facebook you will be kept updated on the latest developments of the experiment there. For those of you who don't follow my FB please check it out and click "like" while you are there. Well with all that being said let's move ahead to my thoughts on this Rioja Red blend.

   To say that all day I waited in anticipation of tasting this wine would be an understatement. Having bought this wine around two (2) months ago and like some other wines I buy, it sat on the Kitchen counter away from any heat simply screaming to be next in line for a review. For some reason I haven't been in the mood for a red wine however. Today though was different, today a Red wine is what I wanted and Tempranillo is what I craved. Opening the bottle and pouring the first glass showed that the wine was fairly light in appearance. When held up to a White piece of paper the wine was actually incredibly light. I have learned in my education of wine however that the color of a red is not always something to be alarmed at especially depending upon the varietal although it is a factor at times in rating a wine and this particular wine is no exception. In general the Tempranillo varietal itself should generally be a medium to Ruby Red, this wine unfortunately does unfortunately not meet that standard. This wine sits a light to lightish medium red in the glass and I am believing that is possibly due to the fact that there is a total of 30% other red varietals which is acceptable. Visually however, I don't believe that the wine was that impressive. Whatever the reason for the semi lack of color, the wines approach on the nose is straight forward with notes of Green Pepper, Blackberry Jam and plenty of herbal notes galore.
A deep Cocoa note displays itself rather nicely for a while which is always rather nice. On the Palette the wine exhibits Black Pepper as well as the same Green Pepper / herbal qualities that it exhibited on the nose. There are super nice yet still semi soft and non offensive Tannins that are really rather pleasing to the Palette. As far as acidity in the wine, there is some but it is held in check nicely and blends rather nicely as well with the Tannins to exhibit a rather wonderful and herbal mouth feel. With all the Oak this wine is created in you have to already know that the wine certainly exhibits it's characteristics. Yes, the Oak is certainly noteworthy as well. A nice toasted note is present due to the wood that the wine spends two years soaking in. This note of Oak presents itself as a darkening on the Palette which adds tons of depth to the wine but don't get me wrong here, the wine itself has tons of depth by itself it's just that that toast note truly sets the wine off and where it the Tempranillo is best suited. Here are some notes that this wine does NOT exhibit, which is a good thing. There is no creaminess or smoothness to this wine, there also is no harshness or bitterness to endure.
The wine as I stated does have a bit of Tannins and they will be noted on your Palette so if you are one to be offended by even the word Tannins than this is not the wine for you. Getting back for a moment to what this wine does have now. A really nice Cocoa note is present on the Palette as well as I previously mentioned, on the nose. While the Cocoa is not something that jumps out at you, if you take the time to actually taste this wine with the thought of evaluating it or relaxing with a glass or two, you will pick it up and enjoy it. Be warned however, it does fade rather quickly unfortunately. One other positive aspect to this wine is the serious note of cassis or Black Currant that is in this wine. There most definitely is some fairly serious Cassis that is also enjoyed on the Palette.  This note seems to top the wine off and also brings us to our closing section which wraps things up. Let's go ahead and get to it then.
   As with all my wines that I review, this wine wasn't exactly expensive but at $20 a bottle I expected a lot especially with how great some less expensive wines can be today, especially from small and unknown producers out of the country as in this case Spain. While the Napa Valley is continuing to raise their prices for wines that can't even a score in the low 90's Spain continues to pump out quality reds and probably whites (I haven't reviewed whites from Spain yet) at a price that is impressive to say the least and this wine is certainly no exception everyone. While as I said, $20 isn't really what I would consider cheap, it is I believe, fair and certainly worth it in order to taste this great Rioja. If you love the Tempranillo varietal than you should head to the store and buy a couple of bottles. We are looking at a pretty well put together wine here and one that I enjoyed very much. The overall score I will place it on The Desert Wine Guy point rating scale is 92 (Excellent Highly recommended) points which takes into account the lack of proper color.

                                                                                                                   The Desert Wine Guy      

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