The Wine of the Week by Annette Tomei
Wine has been produced in Spain for over 3,000 years and in the Rioja region for pretty much all of that time. Rioja began its climb to popularity in the 19th century when phylloxera overcame the vineyards of Bordeaux and many French vignerons moved to the region to start anew. When it came time for Spain to codify wine production standards and designate regions, Rioja was the first to be recognized in 1933, then again in 1991 with an upgrade to the more rigorous DOCa designation.
Bodegas Franco-Españolas has been producing wines in Rioja for over 125 years. The name of the Rioja Bordón is a reference to the company’s French roots (the “Franco” part of the original partnership were from Bordeaux).
Tempranillo is the most common red wine grape in Rioja, followed by Garnacha, Graciano, and Mazuelo (Carignan). It is a thick-skinned grape that is native to Spain but has adapted well to other parts of the world. Berry and cherry flavors found in youthful wines give way to chocolate, tobacco, and earthier flavors as the wines age. Aging in oak barrels is integral to the production of Rioja with the various sub-designations relating directly to aging processes. For example, to be labeled Reserva, the wine must be aged for a minimum of 3 years, 12 months of which must be in barrel.
The 2008 vintage of the Rioja Bordón Reserva is ripe with red berries and cassis along with graphite, and rich leather overtones. On the palate, fruity dark cherry flavors are deepened with bitter cocoa and black pepper. Moderate, balanced tannins and refreshingly tart edges make this a most enjoyable wine for the present, and hint at potential for longer-term deliciousness as well. For the price (average $16 as of Dec 2014), this is a great value wine, especially for holiday entertaining. As for sharing the table, think roasted game meats, stews and braises – not just red meats but game birds, duck (duck confit over lentil salad?), or even a hearty roast chicken preparation.
Annette is the founder of VinEducation, where she is a food and beverage educator and consultant. She is also a professional chef who frequently contributes delicious recipes to EatSomethingSexy.com.
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