LCBO Sale Pick of the Week: Red Wine

Viña Real 2012 Rioja Crianza
Rioja, Spain

Sale: $17.95
Regular: $18.95
Discount (until Sept. 11, 2016): $1.00
Vintages #657411 | 750 mL bottle

Tastes like: That lovely balance between fresh plum and cherry and the mature woody elements that are pure Rioja goodness.
Pairs with: Grilled meats and poultry, charcuterie, pigs in a blanket, burgers.
Good for: An easy Friday night in the backyard (or at the cottage) with friends, a grill full of food, and not a care in the world.
Drink: Ready right now.

Why were drinking this
Quite simply, Rioja is a reliable (and delicious) wine. The rules governing its production matched with fierce Spanish pride mean you can’t really go wrong with any legitimate Rioja. The term itself indicates the region of Spain, which has been producing wine for centuries (possibly even a millennium). The wines are usually a mix of grapes, with Tempranillo leading the way in the reds, and are released at different levels of aging. This one, a Crianza, has enjoyed 12 months in French and American oak barrels and then a further year of age in bottles before being released. This time and care produces a notable smoothness, with well-integrated flavours and texture elements.

Tasting note
This is a modern Rioja produced in a fresh, lighter style. Being Crianza, it’s more fruity and less earthy than the more aged Riojas (Reserva and Gran Reserva). It’s a really nice style, meant for easy drinking (or daily drinking if you’re so inclined). Expect lots of black and red berries, cherry and plum, plus some gently earthy notes of tobacco leaf, dust and black tea. It’s very dry and a bit rustic — great with big meaty dishes.