In this case of six bottles, we have have two stars from Viña Real.
First, three bottles of their gorgeous Crianza, the younger of the two, followed by three bottles of the Viña Real Reserva Rioja.
A "first-bottle/second-bottle" if you like.
What's the difference?
Well, glad you asked. A Crianza must be aged for two years before being sold: with a minimum of one year in oak barrels. It can be longer, but it's generally year in barrels, then a year in bottle.
Reservas are a step up in aging from that; they must be aged for at least three years; with a minimum of one year in oak and the rest in the bottle. Because the Bodegas need to keep the wine ageing for three years, it needs to sufficiently well made that it will improve in the time before they get paid!
Now, 'Reserva' isn't always synonymous with higher quality, though with good producers, like Viña Real, it most certainly is.
This is a great opportunity to compare Crianza and Reserva styles, as well as to experience this wonderfully elegant style of Rioja.
In this case, there are three bottles of each of the following.
Viña Real Crianza. A lovely balance between the exuberance of youth and sophistication of the winery from which it comes. Smooth and juicy with strawberry and currant flavours, it is a fresher and softer style than many other Crianzas, making it very versatile for food matching.
Viña Real Reserva. This is just gorgeous. Smooth, round, soft and balanced with freshness, this is never too heavy and never too light: the perfect Rioja and the perfect red wine.
Viña Real is made from grapes grown in the Rioja Alavesa subregion. This is a farming area where farming is almost exclusively dedicated to growing grapes. And it has been this way for generations.
These are sourced from Viña Real's own vineyards in Laguardia as well as from neighbouring farmers in Rioja Alavesa who have supplied them for many years.
A great example of sustainable farming, collaboration and partnership that will enable the winery to grow and continue production even in the face of climatic challenges.
Style: Sustainable, Medium Bodied, Intense, Fruity, Elegant, Complex
Best food matches: Poultry, Charcuterie