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January 15, 2007

02 Sierra Cantabria, Rioja Crianza

Were it not for the year or two the Cantabria spends in oak to satisfy its Crianza labeling, this might have just been classified out to be "red wine" from "Europe." That age gives it just enough nuance to let us taste how good Cantabria can be--enough body to lift the ripe fruit out of the floods and turn, quite effectively, the murky Spanish waters into wine. With a gamey smell of well-seasoned, turned earth and budding tastes of blueberries and preciously pinot-kissed dried cherries, tar, tobacco, and maybe even a little plummy Belgian cocoa, there's enough to keep us going. But the wine just feels so... slow... tannins lumbering onto the palate, zipped like a tight fly by the tangy, bitter, lettuce-like acid. It's an erratic bottling that speaks to an erratic vintage in Rioja--one that saw both excessive rain and sun, and one that Cantabria tries hard to overcome.


Blogger jens at cincinnati wine said...

I've been scouring the warehouses for the leftover 2001 Rioja's as I am underwhelmed by the 2002's. Might have to jump to the 2003's.

3:02 PM  
Blogger Joe said...

The 2001 was spectacular, but I have avoided Spanish 2002s like the plague. I finished all of my Crianza, and have started on the Cuvee Especial. I love your site - nice diversity - can't believe I missed it. Cheers!

7:40 PM  
Blogger Nilay Gandhi said...

Last night, this wine showed great elegance, a coolness on the palate, and nice freshness in its flavors.

2:03 PM  
Blogger Joe said...

I know the 2001 was extremely elegant. Why do you think it was so different the second time around? Did you serve it with something different, perhaps? Decant vs. no decant? A different temperature? Or perhaps you were in a different state of mind?

6:51 PM  
Blogger Nilay Gandhi said...

I see a fair amount of bottle variation in such wines. The winery's elegance--and subtlety with oak when used--allows the wines to shine through. You can have a pair of twins; if one wakes up in the morning with a pimple, it doesn't mean the other will have a pimple, too. Same thing with these wines, I think. But no matter how well the 2002 shows, there's absolutely no comparison to 2001. It was a great vintage that Cantabria took great advantage of.

8:30 PM  

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