On Friday night I participated in a Christmas fair for La Touche Wines showing a selection of wines to the general public that had come along. I was there on behalf of the company I work for, as a supplier to La Touche, and we had tried to pick a selection of wines that would sell, as well as showing some wines that were a little off the beaten path to give the attendees something that may not have tried before. The wines were a resounding success.
One of the most popular wines we showed, of which I found people coming over to our table to try, after it had been recommended to them by other tasters, was the Vina Magna Crianza 2010 from Dominio Basconcillos. The family run winery of Dominio Basconcillos is in the Ribera del Duero region of Spain. Operated organically and biodynamically, the grapes are grown at around 1000m above sea level, which helps them to retain their acidity and gives great balance to the wines.
This is a wine made from Tempranillo, one of the main grapes used to make Rioja, and is produced in a way similar to the wines of Rioja. The Ribera del Duero has the same legal aging requirements as those in Rioja and these requirements are longer than the rest of Spain. For this to have Crianza on the label the wine must have spent a minimum of 12 months aging in oak barrels and 12 months in the bottle. Why? The oak aging adds flavours from the wood and slow controlled oxidation of the wine will also develop new flavours. The bottle aging will allow the wine to settle and for all big flavours to marry together and integrate with each other, giving the wine a much better structure. The Vina Magna 2010 has spent 15 months aging in 50% new and 50% ‘1 fill’ French oak barrels. New oak barrels will impart more flavour and as they get older or are used more the flavours imparted will become less and less. It has also spent a lot longer in the bottle than the legal minimum requirement, as is indicated by the 2010 vintage.
This is a full bodied wine, with an alcohol content of 14%, but you wouldn’t guess that as the aging has mellowed the wine and given it a softness. Meaty and tannic on the palate, with lots of secondary flavours such as smoke, leather and cloves, there is also an earthiness to it with dried berries. Complex and well structured there is a lovely long finish and the wine has great balanced acidity. Although it has developed already from aging I would say that you could keep this wine another 5 or 6 years and still expect to get new flavours when you open the bottle. An excellent pairing with lamb or some smoked meats. This wine offers excellent value for money and a great alternative to the usual Rioja.