Serious but not austere, Pecina Rioja

Bodega Pecina, Rioja Reserva 2005

Region: Rioja Alta, Rioja, Spain

Grape: 95% Tempranillo, 3% Graciano, 2% Garnacha

Price: around $22

I bought that bottle a month ago after a tasting of the various products of the Bodega Pecina, and I brought it to a friend’s house for our regular tasting session. I was never a big fan of Rioja in the past but I remembered really liking this wine during the tasting, that’s why I bought a bottle, I mean, I can be logical sometimes.

Rioja classifications (Joven, Crianza, Reserva…) are based on wine ageing. To qualify as a Reserva, a wine has to be aged at least 3 years (including at least 1 year in oak barrels) before being sold. This particular wine has spent 3 years in oak barrels and 2 years in bottle afterward. As you can see, the producer went well beyond the mandatory requirements for a Reserva. A word about the producer would be a propos right about now I think: the bodega was founded in 1992 as a small family operations and has been growing ever since. They are starting to be recognized in the US for the quality of their products, hence the tasting at the wine shop.

Pecina 3

Eye: medium garnet

Nose: Clean, medium plus intensity. Notes of dark plums and prunes, cooked fruits. Leather and gamey aromas.

Palate: Dry, medium-plus acidity, medium-plus body, well rounded tannins, great structure and complexity, long finish with coffee and tobacco notes

Composed, collected elegance, that’s what this wine felt like to me. Sure, there are fruit notes, mostly dark plums and even prunes but you never feel overwhelmed by them. The oak aromas give the wine complexity with notes of coffee and tobacco, a toasty, smoky quality that blends well with the fruit. It is definitely a serious wine, not a playful, fruity one. You have to pay attention to the body, the tannins, the smoky, gamey aromas from the oak… I think serious but not austere would be a good tagline for it.

My friend tasted it blind, went through a series of logical assumptions and ended up with two final choices: Rioja or Nebbiolo. Unfortunately she chose Nebbiolo, but she was close.

Food pairings: I had it on its own, it would work well with red meat I think.

Overall opinion: It’s a very good wine, well made, very complex and structured that gives a good insight of what Riojas should be like. And the price is pretty good too. I’ll definitely put it on my recommendation list.

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