Rioja: Still good news

Tasting at Decanter magazine’s recent Spanish Fine Wine Encounter certainly confirmed the superiority of the 2001 vintage in Rioja (which is, thanks to Rioja’s being under-rated, still available on some restaurant menus and still affordable compared to other older wines), and the elegance of the 2004 vintage.  A masterclass presenting wines from Marques de Murrieta reaffirmed the point, and provided a preview of another winner: 2007 Marques de Murrieta Reserva, which will be released near the end of 2012, is lovely, vibrant and well-structured, really delicious, and one that will be most rewarding to cellar. Well worth looking out for in the autumn. . . Otherwise, there was one disappointment, 2007 Dalmau, an attempt at a “super-Rioja,” blending Tempranillo with (you guessed it) Cabernet Sauvignon,  aged in (you guessed it again, right?) new French oak, quite concentrated, and indistinguishable from many other “international style” wines aimed at the monster-wine crowd. It’s part of what the winery calls “a new era in quality winemaking.”

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