A Rosé By Any Other Name – Rosado – from Rioja

I hope you read that title with all the rolling Rs you could muster because this wine deserves for you to at least attempt it. Or maybe out of rrrrrespect, we should rrrrrrefrain from attempting? I tell you what, let’s table that discussion until we’ve finished the bottle. I know for me personally, those rolling Rs come more naturally with a little lubrication.

Rosado is the Spanish word for rosé, and while Rosado applies to all rosé wine from Spain, let me tell you, this is not an average wine, by any name, from any country. I literally heard through the grapevine, that the entire metro Atlanta received less than 2 cases of this wine. I confess I purchased this one from a large online wine retailer, and I’m still wrapping my head around the fact that I paid $100 for a bottle of rosé, but I cannot resist trying such rarity – it’s 10 years old!

Rioja is one of 70 wine regions of Spain. Called Denominaciones de Origen (Designation of Origin) or DOs, as the name implies these indicate origin. Spain has several regions that use an entirely separate classification system to indicate the aging of their wines. This chart from Wine Folly, specific to Rioja, is a great visual, even if the pyramid is upside down for some reason.

Courtesy of Wine Folly

This wine is is the only rosado to carry the Grand Reserva designation which is the highest tier for still wine. There only about 20,000 bottles produced, and only in vintages that the producer deems worthy. All of these things make this wine incredibly unique, but it still did not prepare me for what’s inside.

The aromas are crazy – I’d love to know what I would’ve called this wine on a blind tasting because it surely would not have been a rosé wine – there are oxidative notes, almost like a Sherry or other fortified wine. I might go so far as to say that there is a caramel note that is similar to what you might smell on a really fine whisky. I noted flavors of mushroom, baking spice, pomegranate, and toasted nut. There was also a cheese rind note and a creamy mouth feel. Definitely well into the medium bodied category, it approaches full.

The color is stunning, a beautiful coppery color hue. The grape composition here is Grenache, Tempranillo and Viura, at least for the 2010 vintage it is, I could not locate technical details for the 2011. To gain the Grand Reserva status, the wine must be aged for a minimum of 5 years, and for a rosado, there need only be 6 months of oak aging, however, R. Lopez Heredia ages this wine in oak for about 4 years.

This wine was a mind blower for me. I would not recommend it for the novice wine drinker or even to someone craving a rosé wine, because this wine doesn’t fall into any other wine category than it’s own. If the wine’s reputation didn’t precede me drinking it, I might’ve thought it was flawed upon first opening with it’s oxidative aromas. Upon the first sip that thought would’ve been dismissed of course, but if you are someone opening this bottle thinking you are getting an Old World dry rose, I guarantee this wine is not going to hit that mark. It is one that makes you sit down, take notice, and really think about what it is you are tasting and smelling. I feel like it’s made for the passionate wine drinker that really wants to expand their horizons of what is possible when making wine.

We paired with a simple charcuterie board and thought the wine went great with everything on it – including a raspberry jam that had just a hint of spice to it – but this wine was so interesting, the food became an unnecessary distraction and our favorite pairing was none at all.

I know someone reading this is going to blow a wine geek gasket because of my choice of drinking vessel, but we were at the beach, so my only response is: get over it. Not to mention these GoVino glasses are sentimental – a throwback to the best wine podcast there ever was.

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