Miguel Merino Rioja Gran Reserva 1996
A good old Rioja red can have the structure of a aged Bordeaux and the elegance of a Burgundy Pinot Noir, and all usually for a fraction of the price. However, there is also a divide in Rioja right now between traditionalists (of which few remain) and the modernists, making a bigger and more extracted style of wine. Some of the traditionalists, like La Rioja Alta, make good wine, but can also make wine that has too much wood on it, given the long aging traditions. As much as I love the secondary flavours that wood and bottle age impart, I still want my wine to have fruit. That’s where Miguel Merino enters the picture.
A new winery by Rioja standards, Merino bridges the gap between tradition and modernity by making wines that are both soft and subtle, but also with backbone and a solid core of fruit. I believe they bridge the gap so successfully that both traditionalists and modernists will appreciate their wines.
The nose was very Bordeaux like on this Gran Reserva, with graphite, blackberry, herbs, cherry and wood. The palate first dropped in a bunch of spice, and then moved into wood, vanilla, earth, graphite and a bit of game. This wine is very long, balanced, elegant and flavourful and could easily take the place of a well made 10 year old Bordeaux. What makes this special is its combination of elegance and expressivity, and the level of flavour density and layering. All for a very reasonable price.
$60 at Marquis