El Meson Rioja Gran Reserva 2012

The third red wine from the Christmas Wine Tasting at the Lion and Lamb and a Spanish classic: Rioja Gran Reserva. When I saw this on the tasting list I thought ‘oh good I’ll be able to take a break’, because let’s face it, I’ve drunk tonnes of Rioja in my time. I was more interested in the non Spanish wines and the Rioja was the 8th wine of the night. I wasn’t expecting my taste buds to be fully functional.

As it happens it was a break of sorts but not for the reasons I thought. My taste buds far from switching off actually woke up to the familiar and comforting. It was like coming home and, I have to say, home stood up well to the international competition.

This wine is made by the Baron de Ley Group who also own the El Coto bodega. Anyone who has visited Spain will have seen El Coto Riojas in the supermarket. However having scoured their websites (the group has many sites and bodegas) I can’t find the El Meson brand anywhere. It must be just for export.

According to the tasting notes this wine is made from Tempranillo, as are all Riojan reds. Whether it also has some other grapes allowed under this DOC, I have no idea as I can’t find any info online. The notes also say it is from Navarra so it is probably from the Rioja Alevesa region North of the River Ebro. Finally it is aged in 50/50 American and French oak barrels for 24 months and a further 36 months minimum in the bottle.

It has that classic Spanish purple colour and a pronounced scent of mixed berries, dark and red, and tart tobacco. You can seriously smell the wood. It tastes just as it smells. Mixed berries and sharp wood with burnt tobacco. The tobacco/wood flavours come across quite strongly.

A medium to full bodied dry wine with a good finish. High tannins not as balanced as I like, perhaps a few years more in the bottle, but a good Rioja especially for the price.

Name: El Meson Rioja Gran Reserva
Colour: Red
Year: 2012
Grapes Tempranillo
Winery: El Grupo Baron de Ley
Country: Spain
Region: Rioja
Quality Classification: Denominacion de Origin Calificada
Alcohol: 13.5%
Price: £11.50

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