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Spanish Wine - Wines of Rioja
Red wines from Rioja are made mainly from Garnacha and Tempranillo grapes, and are usually aged in American oak.The result is a wine that tastes of warm mixed berries, toasty oak, and vanilla.

Spanish Wine - Wines of Rioja
That vanilla-scent that rises from glasses of Rioja reds comes from time spent in American oak before bottling. Some producers are now changing to French oak barrels for aging the wine, which results in a wine with a spicier perfume.

Spanish Wine - Wines of Rioja
A treasure from this region is a wine called Hiru Tres Racimos by Bodegas Luis Cañas. It's a red wine of deep concentration that is made from eighty-year-old vines that yield just three bunches of grapes each. Older vines produce more complex wines and low yields— and three bunches is very low—mean concentration. Sensational stuff.

Spanish Wine - Wines of Rioja
Other top producers in Rioja include Marqués de Murrieta, Bodegas Palacios Remondo, Marqués de Riscal, Artadi, Finca Allende,Viña Izadi, Luís Cañas, Primicia, and Roda.

Spanish Wine - Wines of Rioja
Marqués de Riscal's Red Reserva delivers consistently outstanding value. It is a wine that is at once mouth-filling, yet refined. Cinnamon and spice, ripe blueberries and raspberries, silky smooth smoke and chocolate, and hints of caramel and vanilla are all in this wine. Look for the bottle plastered with its distinctive white and gold label and enmeshed in gold thread. Dirt cheap for what it has to offer.

Spanish Wine - Wines of Rioja
Marqués de Murrieta's Dalmau Tinto Reserva is a big red wine that tastes of supersweet strawberries and raspberries, rich cocoa, and smoky vanilla. Quite an intense wine with considerable length.

Spanish Wine - Wines of Rioja
Traditional white Rioja wines aren't easy to come by, and they offer a style you either love or hate due to a slightly oxidized character, which is intentional. For a prototype, try Marqués de Murrieta's Blanco Reserva. It's made from the Viura grape and is aged in American oak for almost two years. The result is a full-bodied dry wine that's deep in color, and tastes of ripe apricots, butterscotch, vanilla, and nuts. I must confess, I love it.

Spanish Wine - Wines of Rioja
Opposite to the style of the traditional white noted above is the Blanco Seco by Marqués de Cáceres. Also made from Viura grapes, it's a modern, fresh, fruity wine that's lighter bodied and relatively inexpensive. In general, wines by Marqués de Cáceres are slightly more modern and show less oak than those from more traditional bodegas.

Spanish Wine - Wines of Rioja
Perhaps the most brilliant winemaker in Rioja, if not all of Spain, is Alvaro Palacios. His passion for quality is reflected in three wines from his Rioja winery, Bodegas Palacios Remondo—La Vendimia, La Montessa, and the magical Propiedad.

Spanish Wine - Wines of Rioja
La Vendimia 2004 is a bright, vivacious Rioja bursting with exuberant flavors of raspberry, blueberry, and pepper spice. The wine is beautifully balanced, friendly, and ready to drink.

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