Haute Wines – Rioja Never Looked So Good

The harvesting of wine in La Rioja, Spain dates back to the Phoenicians, one of the first ancient cultures to have a significant impact on the history of wine. Today, more than 14,000 vineyards span 75 Miles. What does that mean in combination with a history and a passion dating to BC? Some seriously haute wine.

The region yields exceptional wines: 90% red, 6% white, and 4% rose in production. From fresh roses to sweet whites, full bodied reds and everything in between. We have a few haute tips and pics for your rioja shopping and sipping pleasure.

Rose (rosado)

  • Rosados, 4% of Rioja production, run the gannet of styles from fresh and strawberry-like, to lean and tart, to ultra-aged toffee-like beauties.
  • Egg dishes like frittatas and quiche, grilled pork chops, vegetable purées all work well with Rioja rosados.
  • A Rosado can pair as interestingly with sushi as with a mild chevre from Loire.

Haute Recommends – Delicate, fresh and smooth the Marques de Riscal Rosado 2009 is so fragrant if you close your eyes you would swear you are in a strawberry patch. It’s fresh and balanced, perfect for rooftop dining or the late summer BBQ.

White (blanco)

  • A Semi-Dulce (semi-sweet) makes a lovely cocktail wine or after-dinner drink. The Semi-Dulce also pairs well with foie gras and duck first-courses, since the wine cuts through richness of these foods. A citrus main course or a lemon sorbet are also great matches for the Semi-Dulce. The Semi-Dulce is a fun and versatile wine.
  • Unoaked whites, aged in stainless steel, are great summer sippers. Unoaked viura, the predominant white grape used in Rioja, falls somewhere between a pinot grigio a sauvignon blanc; a simple, thirst-quenching wine with hints of tree fruit and pair well with grilled chicken salads.
  • Oaked whites taste similar to Chardonnay. They are buttery and full, almost like a “winter white.”

Haute Recommends – Delicious, thirst quenching and an ultra cool green bottle Cune Monopole is a crowd pleaser and an ultimate luxury value at only $20.  Orange blossom on the nose. Ripe citrus on the palate, balanced acidity and a long finish.

Red (tinto)

  • Reservas and Gran Reservas are the region’s most elegant wines. Graceful, classic Gran Reservas are sublime with any type of wood-roasted meats, especially lamb.
  • A new generation of Riojas, sometimes called Alta Expresión, are more terroir driven and spend much less time aging in oak and bottle. These concentrated bruisers are great with strong cheese, venison, osso bucco as well as a number of chocolate and berry-based desserts.

Haute Recommends – Fine and elegant aromas of black and ripe fruits exude from this award winning wine. The Inspiracion Valdemar, 2005 pairs great with stewed or grilled meat, as well as dry and semi-dry cheeses. Buy now drink now or save for a chilly winter evening.

Happy Haute Sipping!

* Lead photo, Bodegas Valdemar Winebar*