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gorrebustoIt is odd how some wines grow on you. They don’t reveal their virtues on a first meeting. You have to adjust to them. As when meeting a person who speaks a different language, meaning dawns slowly and still without full comprehension.

That was my experience with this wine. My first reaction was—PLONK!. But over the course of two days I gradually came around to a qualified enjoyment.

I suspect this evolution is in part because inexpensive wines tend to lack definition. The flavors and aromas are just vague enough to be interesting but not focused enough to be transparent. This wine kept changing on me.

Hints of vanilla, pencil lead ,and tobacco with an undercurrent of red cherry and fresh fig make an interesting nose although rather poorly defined. There is some concentration and good depth though marred by a bit of alcohol. Coffee is the dominant flavor note on the palate playing counterpoint to cherry, but the tannins strike the mid-palate early and blend with some sour acidity to create a rough and very dry texture that took some getting used to. However a seam of minerality draws your attention, the rough character settles down and the finish is medium length and satisfying. More rustic than most Riojas but an intriguing wine, very lively and vigorous.

Is this the best Rioja I’ve had? No. But a wine that keeps me curious for several days has something going for it.

Score: 88

Price: Around $9, sometimes less, at Bevmo

Alc: 13.5%