Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Spirit of Wine Review & Rating: *** $ Sierra Cantabria Rioja Red, Spain, 2006 - BEST VALUE

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By way of background: The Sierra Cantabria is a Rioja red wine hailing from hillside vineyards in the foothills of the Sierra Cantabria mountains of the Rioja area of Spain.   For 2006, the wine was finished at 13.5% alcohol. 

Original review, January, 2010:

In the glass: This Rioja red shows as medium deep red in the glass, almost opaque in the center.

On the nose: Poured cool without a decant and swirled vigorously, the Sierra Cantabria sports a deep, crunchy (almost granola-like) red fruit nose, with clean, sweet earth elements apparent.

On the palate: The first element on the palate is medium-weight, sweet plums right smack in the middle of your tongue.  This is followed by a roof-of-mouth experience that layers
blackberries and their moderate acids into the mix. 

And the finish: The wine finishes modestly and clean, driven more by its acids and clean fruits than by tannins.  

In summary: Overall, a pleasant, mostly-bright, reasonably balanced experience, yielding two stars on the five-star Spirit of Wine scale.  A plus added for the becoming aroma.  Let's see what happens after a decant too.   The value/price ratio (one and a half more stars than dollar signs) makes this a good value.  FYI, Jay Miller of Wine Advocate awarded 89 points to Sierra Cantabria red.

Hmmm: Since the Sierra Cantabria had a nice overall feel, but seemed a bit angular on its initial tasting, I thought I would try the Mollydooker shake on it and see what happened.  So I poured out about half a bottle's worth into an empty bottle and shook for about a minute.  Aroma is consistent, though some of the "crunchiness" is muted.  On the palate, though, I note a much fuller, more balanced, mid palate experience that incorporates lush fruit, and elements of chocolate.  The finish too is enhanced, yielding a pleasant, lingering, slightly gritty experience, rather than the acid-driven experience which came straight from the bottle.  This may be a helpful finding with young red wines that do not leave a sediment.  Let's do a bit more experimenting over time!
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Update after decanting via three days under vacuum in a partial bottle:  Still a "crunchy" nose, now with an element of milk chocolate added.  Palate and finish are consistent, leaving a full, but acid-driven experience.  Mix this one with food.
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Updated review, a year and a half later, July, 2011:  Consistent color and nose.  Still has that crunchy, clean red berry style.  Sweet, dusty plums and full mouth of red berries.  Acids have taken a more appropriate back seat. Three full stars now and becomes a best value.  Following long decant, full day kept at cool room temperature in partially filled bottle:  Mashed red cherries on the nose now.  The palate has grown a touch flabby with a hint of oxidation. Good at five  years in bottle, but skip any extra decanting.

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