Sunday, June 17, 2007

Faustino, Gran Reserva I, 1996

The Spanish League Ends With A Bang - I Watch With A Bottle Of Rioja In My Hand

Jancis Robinson writes of Tempranillo in her classic, How To Taste: "Even though I've never actually smelled a fresh tobacco leaf, this does the trick for me with its suggestions of both greeness and earthiness and something very definitely savory."

The above quote nails Rioja. Throw in strawberries, hints of barnyard, coffee and forest floor as well as a long, saline finish- and the Faustino I is a textbook sample of classic Rioja. While lacking the power and complexity of The Big Three (Muga Prado Enea, Castillo Ygay and La Rioja Alta 890), it is nonetheless smooth, mellow and refined, with fine acidity it is easy to take for granted, and proves a wine doesn't have to be great to be great. And the fact that you can pick it up in most supermarkets in Madrid and Barcelona is an excellent reason to emigrate.

At halftime, Barcelona leads 3-0 while Madrid trails by a goal. Will Beck's comeback end in a whimper? Twelve minutes to the end, Madrid regains the lead in the championship run and a minute later leads 3-1 while Barsa's valiant efforts are in vain as even their 4-1 victory cannot budge Real off the top. Ten years ago, my heart would have been broken. Today, I am actually in awe of what Real Madrid has done.

6 comments:

Lior said...

Hi, interesting reading.

Any idea if it's being imported to Israel, importer, estimated price, etc...?

Thanks,
Lior.

2GrandCru said...

I think France-Israel imports it or used to but I wasn't sure. It sells for 20-25 Euro in Spain if I'm not mistaken. In supermarkets as I said.

Imagine you could find 10 year old Yardens in our supermarkets.

Lior said...

I'm afraid to buy a two-years old cab stored in a local supermarket, not to mention the absurd prices you can frequently find (often under big 'sale' signs). My latest post has some thoughts on the matter...

Thanks again,
Lior.

2GrandCru said...

I hate to say it, but in Spain, not all wine stores are cooled to what you would call even reasonable temperature. I bought uite a few wines in Madrid in the middle of summer and they all turned out fine. I think that at least Riojas are more immune to heat, perhaps because the style is slightly oxidised to begin with?

Lior said...

I'm not sure whether perliminary oxidation can reduce further oxidation, but it's an interesting question.

I believe the generous use of wood (do they use new wood?) and the acidity of the tempranillo contribute to heat endurance as well.

Lior.

2GrandCru said...

All I know is I bought ten-plus year old Riojas at the end of the summer in Madrid. Judging by their release dates, they were probably there all summer and they drank just fine so for whatever reason, Riojas are rather strudy. I also bought a 96 Condado De Haza that drank just fine and it's anyone's guess how long THAT was on the shelf. And since it's not prestigious enough to be stored in the 'air conditioned' part of the stored (cooled down to 25 degrees), it suffered even more heat than the other bottles I bought.

As for how Riojas are made: traditionally, old American barrels, lots of racking (for logistic reasons, to move the wine around and free up barrels for newer harvests) but that's just what I read, I never researched it in person. :)