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Bodegas Hnos. Peciña Rioja Reserva 2011

Bodegas Hnos. Peciña Rioja Reserva 2011

Winegrower: Hermanos P. Peciña
Region: Rioja, Spain
Grape: 95% Tempranillo – 3% Graciano – 2% Garnacha
Color: Red
Alc: 13.6

Few wines are as beautiful as a perfectly cellared bottle of top-tier Rioja Reserva. This week’s wine meets all the criteria necessary to reach wine nirvana: 1) It’s from an outstanding small family estate; 2) It comes from an excellent vintage; 3) The vineyards that produced this wine have calcareous clay soils and are located in the heart of Rioja Alta, the area’s most prized sub-region; 4) the wine rested for three years in old American oak barrels and then for another two years in bottle before being released, far exceeding legal requirements; and 5) this wine is shipped in temperature controlled conditions directly from the winegrower’s cellars. This wine has just been released and therefore has not been rated by the critics, but previous vintages have met with the most critical acclaim.

It’s true that other well-known appellations set minimum aging requirements for their wines – Brunello di Montalcino in Italy stipulates five years after the vintage – but Riojans take it to another level by regularly cellaring wines much longer than required. Reserva wines must be aged at least three years including one in cask. Our Reserva has been aged three years in cask during which time the wine was racked (decanted from barrel to barrel to clarify) six times. It was then aged an additional two years in bottle before being released. 

Given that Rioja is Spain’s most celebrated wine appellation and that equivalent wines from French or Italian regions cost three or four times as much, it’s hard to fathom how this wine doesn’t break $40 – not that we’re complaining. This Hermanos P. Peciña Reserva Rioja is a one stop master class and remarkable value for all who appreciate fine wine.

As many of you will know we are big fans of Bodegas Peciña. This small, family-run winegrower crafts some of the finest, traditionally made Rioja available and we are pleased to offer their 2011 Reserva from what has been rated an excellent vintage -- one of the top three of the last 30 years (Jancis Robinson: “powerful intensity and smooth, soft tannins”) and at an unbelievably low $34. Cellar Direct is one of the first in North America to offer the 2011 vintage and at $34 you will understand why we believe it is well worth buying for your cellar. It doesn’t get any better than this!

Although the estate was founded in 1992 by Pedro Peciña, he had worked the previous 20 plus years managing the vineyards of famed and illustrious La Rioja Alta and learned all facets of managing the estate’s vineyards and winemaking. Like all of Peciña’s wines they use only estate grown fruit. Their vineyards, all of which are located in the San Vicente zone of the Rioja Alta, are some of the finest in the appellation and sit in the foothills of the Sierra Cantabria Mountains. Many of their most prized vineyards are north facing which helps give the wines good freshness. The estate has 50 hectares of vineyards, which is small by Rioja standards.

This Reserva is one of Peciña’s top wines. It is produced in relatively small quantities from their oldest vines and only from grapes of extraordinary quality and concentration. It is not made every vintage.  

Depending on the vintage the grapes come from a combination of three vineyards. El Codo with vines averaging 32 years old, El Llano with wines around 37 years and Iscorta with vines well over 60 years. El Codo is steep starting at 475 meters then quickly rising to 525 meters with a north orientation. El Llano is at 500 meter with a northwest orientation and Iscorta is also at 500 meters with a north orientation. The soils are calcareous clay and El Codo has very large rocks and pebbles.

The grapes are handpicked in the second half of October. The fruit is destemmed, crushed and fermented in stainless steel tanks using natural yeasts and undergoes malolactic fermentation. Each parcel is fermented separately. In a nod to tradition Peciña ages this wine for three years in old American oak barrels, steadfastly resisting the modern tendency to use new French barrels. During this time the wine is racked six times from cask to cask, thereby removing sediments by gravity in a natural way and avoiding the use of pumps, filtering or fining. After barrel aging the wine is then blended and rests for another three years in bottle before being released. While a subtle hint of the oak is perceptible, it’s had five years to integrate beautifully into the wine’s sumptuous whole.  

Ruby throughout with a bright rim and brimming with dried cherries, earth, and that old Rioja spice box on the nose, once in the mouth one finds dark cherry and ripe strawberry, earth, some tobacco and leather and beautiful fine-grained tannins and a long silky smooth finish. And like all Peciña wines, there is a hallmark tensile quality that comes from a beautiful core of acidity. Quite remarkable indeed!

I would advise decanting this wine 30 to 40 minutes and serving at 18˚ in either Burgundy or large Bordeaux stems to best show off the aromatics. For those of you who want to cellar this wine it is a perfect candidate that will drink beautifully for the next decade, and for those of you without, enjoy and be thankful that the Peciña family took care of the aging for you as it is delicious now. The perfect and classic pairing for this wine would be this Rioja-braised Lamb with Choriza dish.