Well we made it to another “Thirsty Thursday” which means it’s time to scan the bins at Trader Joe’s and Costco and decide what wine(s) to feature as you plot your weekend shopping. It was easy to choose this week. This is one of those Costco wines you should buy in bulk. Heck, isn’t that what Costco is for?
- 2014 Kirkland Signature Rioja Reserva, Spain ($6.99 @Costco; California)
Americans tend to be less familiar with Rioja than European wine drinkers. (No surprise there.) It is arguably Spain’s top wine region and their wines are stratified into three designations, Reservas such as this are in the mid-tier, just one notch below the Gran Reservas.
Before we go too far, let me help a little with pronunciation. Most pronounce this wine as ree-OH-ha. But my Euro friends pronounce it ree-OCK-ha. So you get to choose. I like to use the Euro version because it sounds so high falutin, and also because when I tasted this wine it immediately transported me back to time spent in Spain on a wine tasting trip. Spanish wines such as these were presented with exquisite hams, paella and cheeses.
It was in Spain where I first grasped the inextricable connection between the food and wine from a particular region, which both reflect the climate (or in the case of wine, the terroir) they are born and raised in. What’s more the food reflects the qualities in the wine and vice versa.
Since I have sprung the term terroir on you, indulge me while I geek out a bit, especially since this wine is a really good example of one that reflects its terroir (pronounced terr-WAH):
In her Oxford Companion to Wine, author Jancis Robinson refers to terroir as “a quintessentially French term for the total natural environment of any viticultural site.” As for me, I think of terroir as indelible clues that help one identify where a wine originates from. I find this natural imprimatur more identifiable with old world wines, than with new world ones. This fine wine is unmistakably Spanish, and that is a good thing.
This is a darn near perfect food wine and – being medium-bodied – is also one of those red wines that “swings both ways.” If the weather is cool, it will pair with your pasta dishes, soup or cheese. If it’s warm and you are cooking meat on the grill, it will work equally well. It opens up nicely 15-20 minutes after you pull the cork.
The wine’s back label does an admirable job of capturing the allure of this sensual wine: “Kirkland Signature Rioja Reserva is an elegant wine made from 100% Tempranillo grapes grown in the region of Rioja. Aged 36 months in oak barrels prior to release, this ruby-colored wine has intense, spicy aromas with a hint of licorice. Vanilla flavors on the palate leave a pleasant lingering, well-balanced finish.” And yes, it’s as yummy as they make it sound!
You read that right – 36 months in oak. For a wine selling for $6.99. Like I said, stock up before this one is gone and you have to wait for the 2015.