Over a recent Sunday lunch with friends I had the opportunity of comparing a bottle of good quality red Bordeaux brought as a gift with a couple of bottles of Rioja I’d been saving up for just such an occasion.
Served with a slow-cooked loin of pork, the first up was Chateau Tronquoy-Lalande 2004, Cru Bourgious, Saint Estèphe (tesco.com, £90 per case of 6), a perfectly respectable claret from a reasonable vintage, showing dark fruits and a certain earthiness.
Medium-bodied with good length, it is what might once have been called good lunchtime claret. The first of the two Riojas is Imperial Reserva 2004 (Waitrose £21.99 for the 2005 vintage), a classic Rioja with red and black fruits and spices, followed by a soft almost velvety mouth feel with more spices and American oak in the background and some real complexity.
Overall round the table, both Riojas were preferred to the Bordeaux – not a scientific test, but interesting all the same.
Cune Reserva 2007, Rioja
The other Rioja opened showed lovely supple fruit with layers of bramble-type fruits and spices with notes of coffee and caramel, followed by a long, soft finish – very grown-up and great value.
Majestic, £13.99 but £11.99 if you buy 2. Waitrose £11.99