I'll start this post by apologizing for my lack of activity in 2010. Due to some changes in my real job, 2010 left me very little time and energy for wine writing, but I'm pleased to say that 2011 is a new year that will have me writing regularly about wine once again.
Today's subject is a red wine from Spain's famous Rioja region. La Rioja is in North Central Spain and has been a leading wine region in that country for centuries. In fact wine has been made in the region since the time of the Roman Empire, and Rioja is the one region in Spain that has been known for quality more than quantity for centuries. I often find myself looking to other regions for values since Rioja is so well established, but every once in awhile I'm lucky enough to discover a great value in Rioja.
Many grapes are permitted by the D.O.C. in La Rioja, and you will see wines that range from 100% Tempranillo to wines that have varying amounts of Mazuelo (Carinena to much of the rest of Spain and Carignan in France), Graciano, and Garnacha depending on the winemaker and what part of Rioja the winery is in. There is also varying levels of oak that different Rioja's will see, which can really change the character of the wine. The Montebuena Rioja 2009 is 100% Tempranillo that brings a very nice medium red color in your glass. The nose brings a great combination of red and black fruit with some spice and a very mild floral element. On the palate you get delicious ripe fruit with just the right acidity and mild tannins. This wine brings incredible balance and depth for a bottle that can be easily found for under $10!
Overall this wine is a great value that drinks like a wine that costs two to three times as much. The acidity and the balance make this a very food friendly wine that will be quite versatile for pairing with many different foods. In fact that versatility makes it perfect for traditional Spanish tapas or small plates where you may be eating many different types of foods. This Montebuena Rioja will work beautifully with Paella, Jamon Serrano, Manchego cheese, Marcona almonds, and a nice mix of Spanish olives. With its great flavor, versatitlity and its incredible $10 price, this is a wine that you should buy by the case!