While still in the bar area at Fleming’s Steakhouse to accompany our Bacon Cheeseburgers we were trying to decide on the next wines to try. I looked at the bar menu and saw that there was a special wine flight of Rioja wines offered during the later round of specials. I asked our server if it was available earlier and she said that the manager agreed to let us have the wines early at the stated price, so it felt like a bonus. Rioja is one of the first red wines that I introduced to my Bride, back in the early days, when she was strictly into white wines, and I thought that Rioja would make a wonderful introduction to the world of red wines.
The first wine in the flight was Navardia Rioja 2013 from Bagordi Navardia Joven Ecologico and they state that the wine is made with organic grapes. I have discussed my thoughts on organic winemaking before, but I realize that it is a hot buzzword and topic today. This Rioja wine is made of a blend of Garnacha, Graciano and Tempranillo; and it is the first tier in the levels of Rioja wines. Thankfully it was the first wine served of the flight, as it was fine, but not really what I would look for in a Rioja.
The next wine that we had I thought was very interesting and it even offered that ethereal quality of terroir. The Altos Ibericos Crianza 2012 from Miguel Torres was most enjoyable. This wine is from the Northern part of the Iberian Peninsula, hence the name and was entirely made from the Tempranillo grape. The term Crianza is the second tier of Rioja wines and requires twelve months in oak and then another year in the bottle before it can be sold, and here was what I would call a Rioja wine.
The last wine from the flight was Bodegas Izadi Rioja Riserva 2011. Rioja Riserva is the third tier of Rioja wines and the top tier is Gran Reserva. This wine also had great terroir and was a blend of Tempranillo, Graciano and Cabernet Sauvignon. The Rioja Reserva wines must have a minimum of fourteen months in oak and a required two years additional aging in the bottle before release. The last two glasses of wine were great representatives for what Rioja wines should be, and they made our cheeseburgers all that much fancier.