Alonso Lopez Reserva 11
The hustle, bustle, and complexities of modern living don't seem to leave us all with a lot of spare time. To that point, many of my friends and customers who are retired frequently opine, "I just don't know how I found the time to go to work!"
It's no wonder these days that so few of us have the time, inclination, or space to experience and enjoy wine for long-term cellaring and aging. The good news is that some of the winemakers in Spain do all of that hard work for us!
For the longest time, enjoying well-aged, cellared wine was limited to Downton-Abbey-like characters in stately manor houses. This pretentious veneer of exclusivity gradually peeled away as wine became more readily available to all of us. Winemakers responded to this new all-inclusive market by creating wines that didn't require additional time in the cellar. These wines were perfectly enjoyable at the time of purchase, ready to pull the cork and savor with dinner that evening.
Happily for us, we can enjoy a glass of beautifully aged wine anytime just by purchasing a bottle of Rioja Reserva or Gran Reserva. The real bonus is that while perfect for immediate enjoyment, these wines also make excellent cellar candidates for long-term aging. We're indeed talking best of both worlds!
During my last visit to Spain, I traveled extensively with the wife and husband team of Eva López and Ignacio Alonso. One of the highlights of the trip was a stop at Bodegas Casado Morales in Rioja Alavesa. These guys are the epitome of old-school Rioja, and they produce the Alonso Lopez wines for Eva and Ignacio.
The Tempranillo for the Alonso Lopez 2011 Reserva is sourced from some of the oldest vineyard plots on the estate, and the harvest is handpicked and sorted to ensure only the best quality grapes make it to the press. The wine aged in French oak for a minimum of two years, and it has aged in bottle for the last eight years.
Fire up the grill or get that searing pan on the burner because this wine deserves your best cut of steak or chops. Pull the cork and give this one plenty of air; remember, even after ten years, it's just a baby, and the air will help it come into balance.
After a few minutes in your glass, complex aromas of cocoa, cigar box, tobacco leaf, and baking spice lead to a layered palate with notes of savory plum, cocoa, coffee, and dark chocolate. The middle palate finishes with notes of mocha and balsamic with firm but dusty tannins balancing the spicy fruit.
Thanks to the exclusive use of French oak instead of the more traditional new American oak, the structure is more similar to Bordeaux or a Napa Cab. While you can pull the cork and enjoy a glass tonight with that steak, this wine is a terrific cellar candidate, and I believe it will age like a dream for the next ten or fifteen years.