On this rainy day, Iím listening (with a certain amount of angst) to the dripping of the rain in my bedroom, (now that my landlord has passed on, I might actually be able to get the roof repaired). I am also in mourning over the loss of Rioja. Why are my favorite wines going the way of technology and barrique? What the hell is the scent of cherry vanilla doing in Rioja?
FYI, I have a zero tolerance policy on cherry vanilla. Cherry vanilla is not inherent in grape. It comes from wood and other nifty winemaking tricks. In the Alice dogma (the equivalent to the Dogma film rules) cherry vanilla is to be avoided. At all costs.
So, here is a NON wine rec. If you're looking for a wine with absolutely no sense of place, do rush out to buy the 1996 Reserva from Marqus de Caceres. I'm not sure when this company--can't really call it a winery anymore--decided to court the non-wine loving crowd and follow mass international market--but there you go. There under the cherry vanilla was tannic juice--tannic from wood, the classic cherry vanilla-coated mouthful of splintery wine.
Historically, Rioja has used wood as seasoning, but that seasoning married well with the wine and did not impart distasteful bitter tannins. Large, older barrels allowed the taste of the grape to come through and that's what we Dogmatics look for.
My antidote for this nasty wine was the exquisite 2003 Clos Roche Blanche Gamay. Was there ever a greater contrast? This is a gamay from the Touraine area of the Loire. Decadent and heartbreakingly fragrant, playful and pure, itís and full of lovely ripe raspberries with a vein of minerality that grounds firmly as having come from the vineyards of Clos Roche Blancheís owner, Catherine Roussel. The wine, imported by Louis/Dressner can be found for $13.