I want to start off by apologizing for the long delay in any updates – I fell into a rut. And by pointing out that there is virtue in falling into a rut now and again. Favorite things, be they songs, cuisines, or wines, provide reliable pleasure when life seems full of unpredictability. For me, that rut has taken the form of a Rioja, Spain’s most prestigious wine.
Rioja, just to review, is made with the Tempranillo grape, traditionally sees long aging in oak, and is considered by many (myself included) to fall just beneath the Nobles (Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Merlot, Chardonnay, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc etc.) in terms of depth, complexity, and sheer potential. People are still accustomed to thinking of Rioja as a “leg-o’-lamb” wine, but it’s far more flexible than that, as demonstrated by the subject of this review.
The 2010 Bodega Las Orcas “Decenio,” a young Rioja from the Alevesa region that lies somewhere between a Crianza and a Joven, displays many things I always look for in wine: natural yeasts, aging in oak barriques, no fining or filtration. It’s a young, juicy wine popping with aromas – cherry, raspberry, and baking spices. Ripe and plush, without being too full-bodied for lighter fair, this also has great balance with its food-friendly acidity and medium finish. I’d pair “Decenio” with barbecue and grilled vegetables with a side of potato salad. $12. Buy a case!