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WBW #43: Rioja Reserva

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2000 Marques de Riscal Rioja Riserva.jpgIt’s Wine Blogging Wednesday again, and this time the topic is…comfort wines. “Comfort” wines. Curious, because with the exception of bad wines or unready Barolos, pretty much every wine is a comfort wine to me. That’s what wine is: Liquid comfort.

Each wine is comforting in its own way: After work in a Sacramento summer where temperatures can reach 110 degrees, an ice cold, slightly fizzy vinho verde from Portugal just can’t be beat (especially at $5 a bottle!).

Sometimes I like to wallow in my wines, and for that I really require something more substantial, like the 2005 Riparosso Montepulciano d’Abruzzo I had last week. Other times I want a glass that makes me feel American – something to give me instant satisfaction – and then only a Lodi or Sierra Foothills Zinfandel will do.

wbwlogo.jpgAnd then there is Rioja. Rioja is my personal triumph. No one told me that Rioja was one of the world’s fine wines when I was a young man taking his first nervous and self-conscious steps toward this daunting world of wine. No, all I knew then was to look for something European, and something old. When I saw the Spanish wines, with their antiquated labels festooned with badges from the 1872 Paris Exposition or somesuch. And that fancy gold wire netting! I was hooked.

And when I opened the bottles, I was never disappointed. Never have been, even all these years later. Rioja, and especially the Rioja Reservas and the rare Grand Reservas, offer balance in the glass that I find exceeded by only a precious few rivals. Perhaps a ready Barolo or a mature Chateauneuf du Pape. So what better wine to turn to than a Rioja for this “comfort” challenge?

2000-rioja-riserva2.jpgLife has been uncertain these days. This sullen economy we are in has only worsened the final twitchings of my dying industry, and a job held today may be gone on the morrow. So why not hoist a glass? Lately I am finding myself seeking the company of MFK Fisher and Brillat-Savarin and AJ McClane – all with a glass of Rioja in hand, with Holly nearby and the cats lurking somewhere close.

Last night it was the 2000 Herederos del Marques de Riscal Riojo Reserva, which is true to type. This wine is neither showy nor wan, neither fruity nor felty. It is a friend to sit with you and Fisher and Holly and the cats. It lets you do the thinking; all it does is listen.

UPDATE: Joe over at Wine Life Today has posted the round up of WBW #43, and it is a fun survey of what makes a “comfort wine.” This entry is my favorite.

3 responses to “WBW #43: Rioja Reserva”

  1. Flantastic

    Great minds think alike: Some friends and I were just reminiscing about old times over the Rioja you have pictured.
    Nice and easy, just like the college days — or maybe I just drank too much then to remember how hard it was?

  2. Andrew

    I totally agree. Marques de Riscal is a middle of the road, old fashioned, Rioja.
    I have socked away a couple bottles from ’01 vintage. I bet in a couple of years, they will be awesome drinks (they are already very good now).
    Thanks for leaving comments on my blog.

  3. WBW#43 Round-up: Comfort Wines! |

    [...] the intricacies of the wine are what you’re looking for. Nice post, definitely worth a look. Roija brings Hank from Honest-Foods back to a time when he was first venturing into wine. When things seemed simpler as each and every [...]

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