Cost: Average price $13-$20
Where buy now: Marques de Caceres: Costco, St. Louis Park – $11.99
Campo Viejo: Haskell’s – $9.99
Grapes: Marques de Caceres: Tempranillo, Garnacha & Graciano grapes
Campo Viejo: Tempranillo, Graciano & Mazuelo grapes
Region: Rioja Alta, Spain
Vintage: Marques de Caceres – 2007
Campo Viejo – 2006
I had a shitty day, pure and simple. You know the kind where you want to give everyone the middle finger if only you wouldn’t be mistaken for some degenerate?
Anyways, I came home and looked at my wines. Nothing super inexpensive ala $5. I did have two different Riojas, a Crianza & and a Reserva. Perfect – if I want this to be a two bottle night, I’m set.
Crianza or Reserva, what’s the big diff? Let’s dig in, shall we? Riojas are classified into three categories based on two things: the quality of the grapes and how long the wines are aged. Crianza is the youngest. This is like solid Spanish table red wine. The grapes are good, not exceptional and the wine must be aged for 24 months with 6 months in oak. Reservas are made with better grapes and must be aged for 36 months, 12 of which must be in oak. The last is Gran Reserva which is the most exceptional of all the Riojas. These suckers age for at least five years, two of which must be in oak and then the last three years spent in bottles. We will not be reviewing the Gran Reserva for multiple ($$$) reasons.
I started with this $12 sale Marques de Caceres Rioja Crianza because I decided I was worth it. I couldn’t get the bottle open fast enough. Splash, I poured a big glass. I even had a Spanish deli meat selection from Trader Joe’s. A combination of Spanish salami, Serrano Ham and Chorizo sausage. All that for $5! I ran downstairs to watch a movie. I was home alone, perfect time to watch whatever I wanted. Forlorn, I chose to watch Soapdish – before you judge, I like it. A fun 90s Rom/Com featuring Sally Field, Kevin Kline, Elisabeth Shue and Whoopi Goldberg. PS – have you seen the selection Netflix offers online lately? I can only watch the same six episodes of Portlandia so as not to become a fabrication of the show.
Down the hatch this deep red beauty went. The flavors of berry and spice are abundant in this full-bodied wine. The jamminess has a hint of oak flavor but don’t get me wrong, this wine is smooth and delicious. It was pairing nicely with the Spanish salted cured meats. I continued eating and drinking and thinking, “my, Kevin Kline is a hunk of a man”. I’m laughing at the absurdity of the movie but am thoroughly enjoying myself. Poured the last drop. . .
Well, glad I had the other bottle to continue to keep me warm. Out came the cork of the $10 Campo Viejo Reserva. You know what, I like this, too. I know, what you’re thinking, “of course you do – you’ve just drank an entire bottle of wine”. Seriously, though – this wine was a little less fruit forward than the Crianza I sampled. Similar flavors of cherry and spice and oak but slightly more tannic, more robust. This is probably do to the induction of the Mazuelo grapes which is absent in the Marques de Caceres. The bottle said it was aged for 18 months barrel followed by 18 months in the bottle. I can tell you what, this wine ain’t going to last 18 months in my house.
I’ll have you know I didn’t finish the second bottle. The movie was over and suddenly, so was I.
It’s true, Riojas are my new fave right now. I can honestly say both are on sale and both are worth it. If you are a big Garnacha/Grenache fan – I’ll steer you more toward the Marques de Caceres. I beg you, however, get out of the Malbec rut and head toward these! Just pick up a couple bottles, that $5 Spanish meat sampler at TJ’s and some Manchego cheese. Hell, throw on some Gipsy Kings and you have a great evening on your hands. Or, in the ways of T.S.L. create your own good time, forget the asshole[s]that ruined your day and turn that frown upside down.