Viña Ardanza Reserva Rioja 2004

Viña Ardanza 2004
Viña Ardanza Reserva 2004

 

Cost: $35.00

Where buy now: Thomas Liquors

Grapes: 80% Tempranillo, 20% Garnacha

Region: Spain

Vintage: 2004

 

Yo estoy enamorado de vino de Rioja, Viña Ardanza. This baby will set you back a cool $35, but baby, it’s so worth it. I know, I know, my last wine choice was under $10 and this one is more than $30, what gives? All I can say is that my wine drinking habits are about as bipolar as I am. I never said I made sense.

 

I first experienced this wine last Fall at Terroir in TriBeCa, NYC. We were on vacation, and our mantra: fuck money, let’s do this right. While at the bar, I asked the keep what she’d been drinking lately. The gal poured me a taste of this wine.  “Hmmm,” I thought, “I do like Rioja.”

 

Swirl, smell, sip.

Swirl, sip.

Sip.

 

Eyes rolled back in my head. Hot. Damn.

 

I asked for a full pour. She advised it was $18 a glass. You know what, I didn’t even balk. Not because I was on vacation, but because it was worth every penny.

 

A bit surprised, she blessed me with a very generous pour. I savored that pour for a good long while.

 

It haunted me.

 

Flash forward three months and I found myself at Thomas Liquors on a Saturday at 9:30 pm,  sneaking in during the last ½ hour of their wine sale. I’m perusing, grabbing comfort bottles here and there. Then, I looked up, and… There it was. Viña Ardanza Reserva Rioja 2004, sitting proudly on the top shelf. An overhead bulb mimicked that of a spotlight,  it’s gaze directly showcasing this glorious bottle. As if in a trance, I slowly extended my arm and gently reached for the bottle. Oh, I was so giddy!

 

I’ve written about other Riojas but not one of this caliber. A quick reminder Rioja is not a grape varietal rather it is wine made with grapes from the La Rioja region of Spain. Grape varietals include: Tempranillo, Garnacha, Graciano, Mazuelo and Macabeo. La Rioja Alta is a winery celebrating 125 years. Back in 1942, they registered Viña Ardanza (now their most famous wine) which is dominantly a blend of Tempranillo and Garnacha.

 

This Rioja has all the moves! The foreplay, the love-making and the knee weakening orgasm all in one bottle. It embodies the weathered love of plump ruby red fruit in concert with rich, supple spice, vanilla and leather. This is balanced out by commanding, yet, soft tannins and a finish that does not over stay it’s welcome. Tastebuds flare in delight as the delicate tannins and acidity create structure telling you this is it – this is THE one. You tenderly swallow this wine, your heavy eyelids falling victim to the Rioja’s seduction. Eyes closed, you pause to catch your breath (not too fast- you don’t want to be selfish). However, your breathing begins to amp up again knowing you get to enjoy this moment over and over and over again (until you drain the bottle dry.)

 
Need a tissue?

CK Mondavi Merlot

CK Mondavi Merlot

 

Cost: $6.99

Where buy now: Stores nationwide

Grapes: 80% Merlot, 4% Syrah, 4% Petit Verdot, 4% Petite Sirah and 8% “other”

Region: Wild Creek Canyon, California

Vintage: 2012

It’s a new year, full of possibilities. New exercise regimes, new dieting fads, new budget dedication, and any other new resolution that will most likely fade as we enter the second month of the new year.

 

My biggest resolution this year is to get my budget in check. I’ve been spending like an asshole on wines all in the name of “research” [burrrp]. If I EVER want to put in that oh-so-desired wine cellar and continue my international travels, I need to reign it in!  But I will not sacrifice taste.  Well…

 

Just as I’m committed to tightening up my budget, I’m committed to drinking wine, dammit. I’m kicking this year off with a CK Mondavi Merlot.  With a mere $6.99 price tag, this has weeknight “skank” wine “sampling” written all over it. It’s a no frills bottle of red that’s as easy to drink as it is to open (thanks to the twist-off cap).

 

This wine is a burst of cherry and plum flavors. It’s quite fruit forward but not like actual grape juice. (I found the CK Mondavi Cab Sav to, ahem, embody more of that fruit juice flavor.) This, at least, has some oaky hints, which provide some structure.

 

Again, this CK Mondavi Merlot isn’t some Master Sommelier-caliber, complex, expensive, multi-layered vino. It is however, shall we say, community college-fortified. It’s practical and will give you what you want without breaking the bank.

 
Happy New Year’s and now, I’m off to visit the gym. . .for the THIRD time this year.

Airfield Estates Late Harvest Riesling

Airfield Estates Late Harvest Riesling
Airfield Estates Late Harvest Riesling

Cost: $11.99

Where buy now: Solo Vino, Zipp’s, South Lyndale, Thomas Liquors

Grapes: Riesling

Region: Yakima Valley, Washington

Vintage: 2010

 

You’ve sat down and gobbled up a hearty meal. What are you going to have next? Sure, the obvious and easy choice is to serve pumpkin pie, pumpkin bread, pumpkin parfaits, pumpkin Oreos, pumpkin Pringles and any other tweaked out form of pumpkin you can think of. Perhaps one of those goddamned pumpkin spice lattes? You know those things are laced with carcinogens, right?

 

Pumpkin, pumpkin, pumpkin. The more I say that word, the more it sounds like some kind of  penis enlarger you’d find in a SPAM email (probably from someone named “Tabitha” or “Emmanuelle”).

 

So, what do I associate with the Fall season? Apples, hay rides, leaves changing colors, new school year, knee hight boots, hot tea, football, soothing soups (and yes, my mom’s pumpkin squares) are what come to my mind. Not to mention, the Autumnal color scheme is a Redhead’s best friend.

 

I have a new addition to that aforementioned list: Airfield Estates Late Harvest Riesling. Late Harvest Riesling is a dessert wine that is made with grapes that have stayed on the vine as long as possible without a frost, until they’ve shriveled up into grapes chock-full of concentrated sugars.

 

Airfield Estates is in Yakima Valley, Washington and they’re making some goo-ood wines; their Late Harvest Riesling being one of them. This wine is luscious. It’s thick without being syrupy. It’s sweet without being flabby. It’s seasonal without being overly determined.Honestly, it’s smooth and honeyed with peach and apricot tastes and smells. It’s not all candy, though. There’s enough acidity to help give it structure and make it a pleasant after dinner palate pleaser. I don’t typically gush about dessert wines but I’m in love and that’s why Airfield Estates Late Harvest Riesling is my white wine of the week!

 

Switch it up a bit after dinner, serve Late Harvest Riesling alongside a cheese course. (How European) It’s simple and it will make you shine in front of company. You can make your cheese board pretty by adding some hazelnuts, almonds and dried apricots. Visit my trusted friend and certified cheese professional, Liz, at Lunds NE.

Certified Cheese Professional, Liz.
Certified Cheese Professional, Liz.

 

I love these cheeses with this wine and I recommend sampling them in this order:

 

1.) A creamy cheese such as Shephard’s Way (Northfield, MN.) Brie.

 

2.) An earthy goat cheese such as Cowgirl Creamery’s Truffle Tremor. (Point Reyes Station, CA)

 

3.) A Blue cheese such as Saint Agur. (Monts du Velay, France)

 

Or, if your sweet tooth is nagging you, creme brulee and flan are both great options. I recently  had panna cotta and that knocked my socks off of my ass. The only thing that could’ve made it better would’ve been pumpkin. A pumpkin to smash, that is.

 

Or better yet, to carve a gnarly barfing face into. Barfing_Pumpkin_by_Jiyae

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