Spanish wines from Rioja at the Crianza quality level continue to offer good value when priced under $15. A red wine labeled “Crianza” must be aged at least two years with at least one year in genuine oak barrels. By contrast, most $15 wines have no or very modest ageing requirements and are flavored with oak substitutes. So with Rioja you’re getting an authentic wine even when mass produced.
This widely available standby is more than acceptable in this price range and broadly typical. The nose shows a weird medley of candied cherry and wood with cinnamon and vanilla highlights but has good intensity for a cheap wine. It’s a bit dull up front on the palate but has a round, polished midsection and then turns rustic and chewy on the finish with grainy tannins providing a bit of lean, sinewy vigor to close the proceedings.
Medium bodied with plenty of acidity, it cries out for some good jamon and night crawler blues like Dan Auerbach’s The Prowl.
Technical Notes: Primarily Tempranillo, with some Garnacha and Graciano in the blend.