The Special Occasion wine of the week is the 2004 Baron De Ley Finca Monasterio Rioja. We love this wine over here at Alphabet City Wine Co. It is a wonderful example of where La Rioja is going and how far it has come. There are some significant changes happening in this area with barrel aging. Where for years the trend was to age mostly in American oak these days winemakers are more and more going back and forth from American to French oak. Some of them aging completely in one or the other and sometimes a little in this and a little in that. Baron De Ley is a fairly new producer coming on the scene in the mid eighties and evolving through this new era of experimentation and subtle change.

This 2004 Rioja is made up of 80% tempranillo and 20% other grapes. The “others” are not specified but there might be a skosh of cab and some small obscure blending varietals involved. When you see the color of this wine and feel the pillow-y weight on your palate you will not be disappointed you spent fifty bucks. The nose is filled with ripe black and blueberries with a subtle hint of coffee that increases ever so slightly as it opens. On the palate and running through the body of this wine is a smooth silky tannin structure that promotes this comfortable note of creaminess (a result of encouraged malo-lactic fermentation and aging in French oak) resting on top of the dark fruits adding to the smoothness. And when I say smooth I mean shmooooov, soft and earthy.

This wine is a beauty on it’s own but is also excellent with food. It would hold up perfectly with some sort of marinated chicken dish with a bean or pea salad. It would also compliment lamb dishes, especially with an herb sauce (like, maybe a mint sauce). Also chorizo comes to mind with caramelized onions and such. Gotta stop. Getting’ hungry.

If your experience with this Rioja is anything like mine you will just want to smell it all night long and regret every luscious sip knowing that with every one you are closer to an empty bottle. But don’t fret. The memories of this one will stay with you for a long time. Really. Being in this biz for almost six years I have had my share of wine. As I developed my palate and preferences for certain wines it became easier and easier to file tasting notes away in my head for future reference. Throughout this short amount of time I have been into wine every once in a while a bottle comes along that hits me like a Peterbilt sliding down a slick country road at full speed after a rainstorm. These wines never leave my memory. Every detail of the experience is stored some vault in my mind that cannot be erased. This bottle is on that short list. So if you are having a special occasion come on in and grab it with confidence knowing that this high-end Rioja is humbly wine geek approved! At $50 this wine is sooooooo worth the pennies. Oh and to top it all off…the label is a metal fitted plate…..really. Cheers!


One response to this post.

  1. Posted by Dave Trieger on July 29, 2008 at 8:53 pm

    Keith… Nice story, sounds like a keeper, those Riojas are coming on strong… plan on stopping by InVino on Friday with a small crew. Been a while. If you’re not on that night, I’ll prob stop by ABC to say HI!


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