Saturday, June 6, 2009

2004 Rioja Reserva

2004 Baron de Ley Riserva

2004 Baron de Ley Reserva, DOCa Rioja

I've been tardy. This wine was the one responsible for my meltdown last weekend, so you understand my reticence to blog about it. In any case, it was an immensely interesting experience, and I learned a lot from this wine.

Rioja should always be the safe choice right? Tempranillo has wonderful fruit, with enough complexity to keep wine intellectuals happy. Immediately upon opening this bottle, I smelled an intense aroma of brettanomyces. Lots and lots of brett - stinky, barnyard-y bouquet of manure and dried dung. It was so overwhelming that it became undrinkable - I can't recall the last bottle of wine that I just couldn't put in my mouth. I was ready to pour it out, but decided to put it away for the night.

After 24 hours in the bottle, a remarkable thing happened. The brett receded, and the fruit and spice came forward. Deep red colour with excellent saturation. A rustic aroma of leather, red fruits, spice, and creamy oak. Lean in the palate, but great balance. Bitter-tinged finish.

Unfortunately, this bottle reveals no characteristics of Rioja wines. But the experience with the brett really taught me a lot. These kinds of things always bring out your insecurities - is the aroma an indication of brett or is the wine corked? My confidence in my tasting abilities soared after tasting the brett recede after 24 hours. It's remarkable how dramatic the wine changes with some air. Fantastic.

Never judge wines too quickly. Sometimes, all a shitty wine needs is some patience.

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