Weekly Under $20 Value Wine Pick – 2003 Bodegas Sierra Cantabria Rioja Crianza, Rioja, Spain

sierracantabriaWinery: Bodegas Sierra Cantabria

Bottling: 2003 Sierra Cantabria Rioja Crianza (Tempranillo)

Importer: Jorge Ordonez

Region: Spain

Sub-Region: Rioja

Estimated Retail Price: $14 – $17

Purchase Details/Tasting Source: Purchased at Fujioka’s Wine Times during a Spanish-themed tasting sponsored by the local distributor, Chambers & Chambers Wine Merchants.  Other wines in the lineup included the Juan Gil Monastrell, Garnacha de Fuego Old Vines Grenache and a unique white wine called Godello.  There were others, but I forgot.  I thought the Cantabria was drinking the best in the lineup.

Tasting Notes: Juicy tannins, nice mouthfeel and ripe fruit are what made this wine the most appealing amongst the lineup of the other wines.  I also got some nice leathery spice as well as a hint of smokiness.  Pleasant and light-hearted enough to be a gulper or quaffer, but has enough complexity to warrant at least some smidgen of geeky wine-speak.

Food and Context in Which to Enjoy: I took a chance with this wine and had it with some home-cooked Vietnamese and Korean cuisine, complements of my cousin’s husband.  Surprisingly the wine paired pretty well.  Charcoal grilled kal-bi, kim-chee and spring rolls with a peanut sauce were the main dishes.

Since the wine was a crianza (only one year spent in oak), the oak wasn’t much of an issue as it can sometimes be with food and wine pairings.  It’s the Rioja Reservas and Gran Reserva’s that might cause some issues with asian food pairings, due to their more pronounced vanillin flavors from the extended aging and newer oak treatments.

A good weeknight, roasted chicken, meatloaf sort of wine.  My cousin’s husband’s cousin, who doesn’t drink wine very much enjoyed it, so I’d say this wine would be a great intro to Spanish wine or red wine for that matter, for the occasional drinker.

Winery Background: Bodegas Sierra Cantabria is a part of the Eguren Family of Wines that have been making wines since 1870.  They have several other wineries in their portfolio, including some projects in Toro as well as La Mancha.  The Sierra Cantabria basic Rioja line, where the crianza originates, consists of a Cosecha, Crianza, Reserva and Gran Reserva.

One of their most popular and well-known value wines is the Protocolo red and white wines.  They both usually weigh in at around $6 – $8 and are consistently great values.  You should keep an eye out for these if you’re looking for cheap, but solid case buys to stock your cellar.

My time in the retail business has shown that the wines made by the Eguren Family always fared well with retail consumers, so seek them out.


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