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Rioja – but not as you might know it! On Saturday I posted a video story of this wine being decanted (bottle hidden) and posed the question: Is it Rioja or Chianti? Two hours later, the polls were swinging 71% in favour of Chianti and after revealing its identity, I received several comments about its deceptively bright colour.

You probably know this, but Rioja isn’t all about age and oak. Sure, its classification system ranks wines entirely based on how long they’ve spent ageing in barrel and bottle, and I frequently recommend Rioja to friends for its “good value for bottle age” – but it has way more to offer than just this.

Take Majestic’s Definition Rioja 2010, for example. Seven years old, delicious…and £10.99. In other words, crazy good value.

On the other hand, we’ve all come across some pretty bland Gran Reserva – supposedly Rioja’s ’top tier’ – in a local supermarket at some point.

So it doesn’t really do a very good job of helping us find the best quality wines. This, combined with a tradition of blending grapes from across the vast region, has led many producers and commenters to decry the lack of emphasis in terroir – and the (sometimes) overuse of oak.

Artuke’s Finca De Los Locos, produced from a single vineyard, is an example of a top quality wine that dances to its own tune – and all the better for it. The original owner was called ‘crazy’ for planting on this sandy plot in 1981 (hence the name) and oak ageing is minimal compared to many other wine from the region.

The blend is 80% Tempranillo, 20% Graciano.

All that said about age, truth be told, this 2015 is super young. Delicious nonetheless, but it’s only going to get better over the next five to ten years.
So there you go. If you were surprised to find out this bright ruby red wine was actually a high quality Rioja, this is why.

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