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Weekly Wine Picks: Kids back to school? Relax with a Rioja

Weekly Wine Picks: Kids back to school? Relax with a Rioja

The beginning of September usually means two things: one, we’re all suffering from holiday blues; and two, the kids (for those that have them) go back to school. For those that don’t, it usually means the traffic’s about to build up again. Whatever your situation, now more than ever we need a great wine to kick back and relax with in the evenings.

I’ve chosen two Spanish wines from the same popular region, Rioja. The reason being that these two Reserva examples are full-bodied yet-quaffable numbers with chocolatey-strawberry fruits. The tannins are well integrated, so you get a creamy structure with both, and the alcohol is warming and relaxing. Ideal for September evenings.

Don’t drink Spanish wine? Try one of these and you’ll probably think again…

Baron de Ley Rioja Reserva 2010Baron de Ley Rioja Reserva 2010

For just over £10, you can bag yourself one of the best examples of Rioja from 2010. This vintage was a great year, so you can be confident the wine will be fruit forward, well-integrated, creamy and full.

Decanter awarded Baron de Ley’s 2010 the “Best Rioja 2015” accolade with 95 points. I had previously tried the 2009, which I described as a little underwhelming because it was predominantly just ‘strawberries and cream‘. But the 2010 is not underwhelming at all. Instead the tannins have softened, the alcohol is full and complements the fruit, which is more refined than it was jammy in the 2009.

An excellent Rioja. Would also cellar for up to another two years.

Navajas Rioja Reserva 2009Bodegas Navajas Rioja Reserva 2009

If you really want to stun yourself then spend an evening at Barton Street Wine Café in central Bath and by a bottle or glass of this gorgeous Rioja. Classically-styled this is a smoky red blend that’s ripe, spicy and layered in its structure.

2009 is a safe year and the Navajas is one of the wines that proves the quality of the vintage. Under its 3-year ageing and oak influence the fruit is refined, not sharp or jammy, and the finish is almost herbal with smooth chocolate notes. Tobacco is even a little noticeable on the nose, which you may associate with excellent wines from the Rhone Valley in France.

A league of its own, the Navajas Rioja Reserva retails at around £11 and above from various UK retailers – if you can find it! It’s also available from Barton St Wine Café.

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