Two very different Riojas

Carrying on from my previous post, Rioja is highlighted again but this time the more recognisable reds take the spotlight and for contrast, the two bottles on show are from the two ends of the Rioja spectrum. Firstly a very youthful (Joven, which translates to young man) and then on to the heights of a Gran Reserva. The wines are made by Bodegas La Eralta in a town called Agoncillo in the heart of the Rioja region, a family-run business founded in 1990.

So let me start by giving you my thoughts on these wines, regular readers will know my passion is Spanish wines in all its guises ( so no bias here then, I hear you cry). I will begin with the Rioja Joven (young) which as the name implies is a youthful red which sees very little or even no oak at all, then I will finish with the older Grandad, Gran Reserva.

Altos De Bergasa Rioja (Joven) 2021

Altos De Bergasa

If the first thing you see on the label is Rioja then don’t expect it to be what you think, this is a very youthful red, seeing very little or no oak at all. In the glass, it’s a vibrant cherry red colour, with quite pronounced red fruits on the nose and still very Rioja-like. On first sip there is plenty of bright acidity and lots of ripe cherry, redcurrant and perception of some sweetness. This wine lends itself to being chilled and all the better for it, I put it in the fridge for around 30 minutes and on a hot humid evening it was just what was needed. On it’s own it was pleasant enough, and equally as nice pairing with light dishes.

This red is nothing too complicated and doesn’t try to be, it’s just a refreshing glass, but even at 13% abv it can still pack a punch, so beware!

Cork rating
My Rating 7.5/10 Corks

Señorío De La Eralta Rioja Gran Reserva 2016

Señorío De La Eralta Rioja Gran Reserva 2-16

Next up is the Gran Reserva 2016, nice looking bottle with a picture of the Eralta Bodega on the label. When poured the first thing you notice is the colour, slight brick, orangey red around the rim/edge, which shows its starting to age, although it’s only a 2016 it’s probably got a few more years yet to evolve even more.

My initial thoughts after the first sip was it needs a little time to open up, so you may want to consider decanting and I assure you it will be well worth the wait. Typical Rioja aromas lots of cherries, plums, strawberries, vanilla, smoke and leather, and this comes through on the taste as well. I’d say this is a slightly more restrained Gran Reserva than others I’ve tasted, softer and more fruit forward, oak and tannins are not intrusive and there’s still some fresh acidity, along with the more typical vanilla, smoke and leather.

In some respects, this is still old school but it definitely isn’t in taste, much more modern and fruit-forward and an easier drink than some of the more dusty Riojas out there. My wife is not a big fan of top-heavy tannins and oak but she really enjoyed this to my dismay as there was less for me to drink.

So to end two very different reds, but both very good in their own right, from a fresh vibrant easy drinking Joven to the more serious and very enjoyable Gran Reserva.

My Cork Rating
My rating 8.75/10 corks

Where to find them?

Altos De Bergasa (Joven) £8.33 (Mix 6)

Señorío De La Eralta £13.95 (mix 6)

International Wine Challenge Winner 2022

You can find these wines courtesy of Dan Farrell-Wright at Wickhams an independent wine and spirit merchant, fresh from their well-deserved ‘Specialist Merchant of the Year award’ at the recent International Wine Challenge 2022

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