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The Weekly Dozen - Red Wave Featuring Rioja

Ten of our 12 wines today are reds – mainly from Spain with several from Rioja along with a couple of red blockbusters.

Rioja reds, mainly from the Tempranillo grapes, give both great tastes and great values.  In many ways, they remind me of red Bordeaux back when that region had more muted fruit and used more old barrels.  The charms of Rioja to me are its mellow cherry flavors with an underlay of mature wood – especially with the reservas which spend more time in the barrel.

With Rioja, you can drink well – if not always exceptionally – for under $20 a bottle.

2017 FEL “Savoy Vineyard” Anderson Valley Chardonnay ($48). Good combination of lime and other citrus flavors and vanilla, with a seductive mouth feel.

NV Gratien & Meyer Crémant de Loire Brut Rosé ($16). Refreshing and crisp with light strawberry flavors and a clean finish.

2017 Baron de Ley Rioja Tempranillo ($13). Light but firm with fresh cherry flavors and a crisp finish.

2015 El Coto Rioja Crianza ($13). Lightly tart cherries and a little bit of cream with a clean finish.

2016 Beronia Rioja Crianza ($15). Brightish red flavors, somewhat light in body, good finish – enjoyable.

2018 Susana Balbo “Crios” Valle de Uco Malbec ($15). Ripe, rich, cherry flavors, well-balanced and very refreshing.

2014 El Coto de Imaz Rioja Reserva ($20). A Rioja style I particularly like, with crisp cherry fruit blended with the mellow flavors of its aging barrels.

2014 Museum Cigales Reserva ($21). Enjoyable, with cherry flavors followed by barrel notes, a zip of tanginess and a mildly tannic finish.

2012 Baron de Ley Rioja Gran Reserva ($32). Solid if not terribly exciting with muted cherry flavors and lots of wood notes.

2014 Vinas del Vero “Secastilla” Somontano Garnacha ($40). Very juicy and rich red flavors with good, firm tannins.

2015 Il Borro Toscana Red Wine IGT ($53). A wine for all drinkers with its jammy, fruit forward flavors that are neither sweet nor extracted and a finish of figs, meatiness, bitters and lightly puckery tannins – complex and worthy of contemplation.

2015 Ramey “Rodgers Creek Vineyard” Petaluma Gap-Sonoma Coast Syrah ($65).  Just lovely – dark but not dense raspberry and cassis fruit with a spicy, savory, garrigue layer. Go buy a lamb shank and whip up a cassoulet for this wine.

Prices listed are generally SRP or from

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