There is a wonderful place in Boston that organizes free wine tastings every Friday afternoon and early evening (and then goes ahead and offers a significant discount on tasted wines). I went there last Friday for a tasting entirely devoted to wines from not only a single region, but a single producer.
The region was Rioja and the producer was Bodegas P.Pecina. Rioja is probably the most famous wine producing region of Spain, it’s in Northern Spain, the main grape used is Tempranillo and what makes Rioja special is a very codified use of ageing in oak. Basically depending on how much time your Rioja spent in oak barrels before being bottled, it will be classified into a specific category. Ageing in general is very important for Rioja wines, Tempranillo is a grape that ages well and that conditions the way Rioja wine is made and sold.
– Joven : no oak ageing at all
– Rioja : less than a year in oak
– Crianza : at least 2 years of ageing including at least one in oak
– Reserva : at least 3 years including at least one in oak
– Gran Reserva : at least 2 years in oak and 3 years in bottle
The tasting took us through those nuances, five different wines, from the same producer, with the same variety breakdown (95% Tempranillo, 3% Graciano, 2% Grenache). As you can see the Tempranillo proportion is rather high, a traditional Rioja usually is aroung 65% Tempranillo. This particular Bodega was fonded in 1992 as a family operation and it has been growing organically ever since. Onto the wines now
Pecina Joven Cosecha 2012 ($15)
No oak ageing, very fresh and vibrant, lots of cherry and plum flavors
Pecina Crianza 2007 ($20)
2 years in American oak barrels, already smoother and rounder with tobacco and vanilla notes starting to appear
Pecina Reserva 2005 ($30)
The main wine of this producer, 3 years in oak. The wine feels broader and has more depth than the Crianza. It is more concentrated but remains fresh. I loved it and bought a couple bottles after the tasting.
Pecina Gran Reserva 2003($50)
Only made in great vintages and spends 3 years in oak and at least 5 years in bottle before being sold. Very special stuff. Extremely concentrated with toffee notes. It would be interesting to see how it is in 10 years.
Pecina Vendimia Selecctionada 2006 ($50)
A wrinkle from this producer, a selection of the best old vines at harvest time during exceptional vintages. It is not aged as much as the Gran Reserva but it feels even more concentrated while remaining fruity.
Overall a great introduction to what Rioja is all about and an interesting take on how winemaking techniques make a difference. I wonder what kind of tasting this little shop will have next Friday, and the Friday after, and the Friday after…