The story: One of the greatest things about being human is our ability to adapt to new information, to change our minds, to rethink values and always improve. Sometimes deeply held convictions of our youth are discovered to be flawed or incompatible with experiences later in life. That is not to discount the times in which we become even more convinced of our positions, more assured in our politics and worldviews, but in general it is inherently human to change.
In my thirties I have learned to not lament the opinions that are changing with my age. There is nothing about youth to be ashamed of, nothing less true about how I felt ten years ago than how I feel today. Change is good, and yet tradition is also good.
Rioja currently straddles that line of change versus tradition, and does so with deft balance. La Rioja, in Northern Spain, has a long tradition of producing bottles of tempranillo in rather strict classifications. While widely praised and rather well known, Rioja as a region has faced some setbacks as lessor regions, introducing newer styled wines for earlier consumption, began to rise throughout Spain. Ribera del Duero and Priorat were giving Rioja a run for their money, and many in Rioja reacted. Based on new information, a new reality, and the availability of new techniques available to them these modern winemakers explored developing more approachable wines with more concentrated fruit flavors and a more international style.
These movement were not without controversy or push back. Many bodegas still hold to the old traditional style of Rioja, and many in the wine world praise this. But the modern winemakers have done well for themselves also, and they have been a big part in bringing the region back into the everyday awareness of worldwide wine consumers.
The wine: The 2006 RODA Rioja Reserva, is 97% tempranillo and 3% graciano. As a Reserva labeled wine, it spent the requisite 16 months in 50% new French oak, 50% neutral barrel, and then an additional 20 months in bottle before its release. Certainly a wine made in the modern style it pours a very dark, deep red, almost black at the glass core. With waves of deep black cherry and woody spice initially the wine gives way to beautifully ripe strawberries and distinct violet aromas after 45 minutes in the decanter. Across the palate the juice offers us ripe cherries, transitioning to a creamy oaky mid palate and a earthy, coffeed finish that lasts 30 seconds plus.
The verdict: Like embracing the changes that life inevitably brings to our thoughts and values, the modern style of Rioja is completely valid and this is a wine to prove it. While decidedly fresh, ripe, and juicy, the wine has the acidity and tannins to hold the fruit. It tastes and feels like a Spanish tempranillo, and hints at the dusty, minerally, leathery profile that is so much more pronounced on a more classic style. This is a very good wine, and worth the $45 price tag.
This wine was provided as a media sample with intent to review.