faustinoWe’re fascinated by novelty forever chasing the next new thing until innovation itself seems routine. And so when we encounter something old school, really old school, it seems fresh and new.

This wine is really old school Spanish Rioja. Cherry notes typical of Tempranillo but they barely show through the musty  earth, smoke, and light vanilla. I could sniff a funky nose like this all day. It’s like being downwind from a barnyard fire. (There may be a little brett but if so it adds rather than detracts.)

The palate is lively and refreshing but a little tough and austere,  medium weight and a medium length finish with forceful, grainy, slightly coarse tannins.Firm acidity keeps it all in balance. 4 months in new American oak gives the wine complexity but the oak component doesn’t overwhelm.

No pretentions to elegance or refinement. Fiercely humble, a fiery defense of rusticity. It’s what cheap Bordeaux aspires to be but only rarely achieves–vin ordinaire with flair.

Bodegas Faustino has been making wine for 150 years in Rioja and they are justly famous for their celebrated Reserva and Gran Reserva. But this bottom shelf bargain is a worthy achievement as well.

Score: 90

Price: $10

Alc: 13%