The Spectator: Five [Wines] to Stock Up On for Easter

By Jonathan Ray

And Rioja was invariably the wine that we drank alongside. There’s no better match for lamb…

I’ve never been a fan of Albariño, largely, I realise, because I’ve never had a decent one. My eyes were opened by the 2020 Pazo de Seoane Albariño (1), a blend of Albariño with dashes of Caiño Blanco, Loureiro and Treixadura, none of which – in my endless ignorance – had I heard of before. Oh come on, I do my best to keep up. Anyway, this is a gem, full of fresh green apples, pears and peaches, a touch of elderflower and plenty of citrus on the long, dry, zesty finish.

The 2017 Finca San Martín Rioja Crianza (2) is 100 per cent Tempranillo from La Rioja Alta’s Torre de Oña vineyard. Production was down thanks to a savage frost at the end of April last year, but the wines that did get made were spot-on and this is great value. Aged for 16 months in American and French oak, it boasts rich, red fruit with spice, chocolate and coffee on the finish, all wrapped up in gentle tannins.

A blend of Tempranillo and Garnacha from three first-rate vineyards, the 2015 La Rioja Alta Viña Ardanza Reserva (3) has everything I love about fine Rioja: fully mature, luscious, ripe fruit; soft tannins; a touch of sweetness in the mouth and whispers of spice and liquorice on the finish. After malolactic fermentation and three years in oak (and two in bottle) before release, it’s in perfect nick and, although the ideal partner for roast lamb and other meaty dishes, many Riojanos enjoy it as an after-dinner treat.

The 2015 Finca Martelo Reserva (4) is also an absolute joy. Made largely from old vine (60 years plus) Tempranillo and dribbles of Mazuelo, Garnacha and (white) Viura, it’s a gorgeous deep red and gratifyingly complex. It’s more reserved than the Viña Ardanza, more concentrated and slightly less sweet in the mouth. It’s full of fresh and sour cherries, vanilla, toast and mocha. If you don’t like this you simply don’t like fine Rioja. 

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Featured Wines

2017 Finca San Martín Rioja Crianza Buy USA

2015 La Rioja Alta Viña Ardanza Reserva Buy USA

2015 Finca Martelo Reserva Buy USA