Carlos Serres Crianza Rioja 2013

Estate: A pioneer in Rioja, Carlos [Charles] Serres left Bordeaux and founded one of the first wineries in the Haro area of Rioja in 1896. Fleeing phylloxera, Serres, an already famous French wine consultant, “found in Haro the perfect terroir to make Bordeaux style wines, with a climate and terrain which reminded him of the best terroirs in Bordeaux”. Merging French winemaking techniques with the Rioja terroir, Serres’ visionary approach focused on international export and was a phenomenal success. Forever changing the way wine was understood in the area, he remains “one of the key personalities in Rioja’s winemaking history”. Family owned and operated, with 150 acres of vineyards with an average vine age of over 30 years, it stands out as one of the few estates in the Rioja region that has been producing wine for over 100 years.

Winemaking: Grapes are handpicked from vines 10-20 years old. Aged 14 months in a combination of American and French oak barrels, followed by a minimum of 6 months ageing in the bottle.

Tasting Notes: Transparent garnet in colour, highly aromatic with black currant, black cherry, forest floor, vanilla and a trace of pencil lead. Layers of blackberry, plum, cherry and crushed black peppercorn are framed by silky tannins and fresh acidity. Fruit, spice and a hint of toasted oak linger between each sleek sip. Easy drinking and easy to pair with just about any dish. [It was fantastic with Mexican spiced roasted sweet potato, onion, pinto beans, soy chorizo, mole sauce and cilantro crema over a bed of pepper and lime wild rice.]

Pairing Suggestions from the Winery: Extremely versatile. A perfect match for Mediterranean cuisine such as vegetable or fish dishes, rice, pasta, beans, red and white meats, cheese.

85% Tempranillo, 15% Garnacha
Estate Bottled by Carlos Serres S.L.
13% Alcohol
$12 [average price
Enjoy now thru 2019


Sample submitted for editorial consideration.

Vinedos Real Rubio ‘Terra Milenaria’ Rioja 2013


Rustic and sprightly, this is a fantastic value Rioja that pairs with a wide variety of food, from hearty grained breads and cheese, to barbeque, to Asian dishes.

Estate: Vinedos Real Rubio is located in the heart of the Rioja appellation of northern Spain and was established by Mariluz Ruiz and Javier Rubio on the land they inherited from their grandparents. Over 90 hectares of vineyards are cultivated with respect to the environment and with the goal of “achieving maximum quality in the grapes”, therefore they do not use chemicals, and only employ phytosanitary treatments if absolutely necessary. Additionally, 26 hectares of Verdejo, Graciano, Chardonnay, Tempranillo and Muscatel varieties are cultivated using only organic methods. Varietals are cultivated depending on soil, climate, sun and wind exposure of each vineyard plot.

Philosophy: With the love of the land and vine inherited from their grandparents, they have “a firm desire to develop the full potential of good wines from the very best qualities of the vineyards and of a unique way of life constructed around the world of wine”.

Tasting Notes: Dark red-violet in colour with robust aromas of cherry, tree bark, jalapeno and hints of flowers. Earth and leather notes highlight the plush blackberry and cherry core, whilst hints of spicy jalapeno and black cherry pleasingly linger on the dry finish.

Blend of Tempranillo and Graciano [I could not verify varietal percentages]
Embotellado en la Propiedad Vinedos Real Rubio [Bottled at the property]
14% Alcohol
Enjoy now thru 2016

Finca Valdeguinea Finca Rioja 2012


In addition to the tantalizing $7 price tag, the label bears a striking resemblance to both my countertops and business card. Easy drinking, fruit forward along with plush earth and spice notes, a fantastic companion to summer dishes and a phenomenal value.

Estate: Finca Valdeguinea is located in the Rioja Alta sub-region of Rioja, north central Spain and consists of 25 hectares of vineyards. Third generation winemaker Luis Juan Sáenz Comunión heads the family estate.

Philosophy: It is the family’s philosophy that “the whole family, like our friends, put our hearts and every senses” into their wines.

Winemaking: The grapes were sourced from vineyards 20-30 years old with clay-calcareous soils. This is a limited production wine with only 15,000 bottles produced. [My bottle is No. 06126]

Tasting Notes: Dark red-violet in colour with aromas of wild berries and earth. Tart red currant, cherry and brambly berries ran atop an earthy undercurrent, whilst silky tannins, crushed white peppercorn and herbaceous hints lingered charmingly between each sip.

100% Tempranillo
Rioja Alta
Bottled for Vitis Vinicor, S.L. by Vinearum
14% Alcohol
Enjoy now thru 2015

Also checkout JVB Uncorked’s review:

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Hacienda Lopez de Haro Rioja Reserva 2005

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A fantastic value, this is a sturdy Rioja with vivid fruit and smoky spices.

Estate: Hacienda Lopez de Haro is located high on a hill in the historic village of San Vicente de la Sonsierra in the Rioja region of northeastern Spain. The winery is renowned for the production of “great aged reds” crafted from terraced vineyards, with many vines being over 100 years old.

Philosophy: “Simplicity, elegance and experience”

Winemaking: The grapes were hand harvested from low-yielding vineyards 65-80 years old with rocky soil. The wine was aged and refined in French and American oak barrels for 20 months.

Tasting Notes: Brick-garnet in colour with aromas of smoky cigar box spice and cherry. Dusty earth notes followed black cherry and red currant flavours, whist dry tannins, crushed black peppercorn and wisps of smoke comprised the lengthy finish.

90% Tempranillo, 5% Graciano, 5% Garnacha
Bottled and Produced by Bodega Classica S.L.
13.5% Alcohol
Enjoy now thru 2025

Rated 92 points by The Wine Advocate

Eguren Ugarte Onice Rioja 2011


An intense Rioja loaded with tangy dark fruit and spice that possesses an easy drinking, cheerful agility.

Estate: Founded in 1870 by Dionisio Eguren, Bodegas Eguren Ugarte is located in the Rioja region of Basque, northern Spain. Today the family owned estate consists of over 130 hectares of vineyards and is headed by both the 5th and 6th generations of the Eguren family.  They have received numerous awards for their hotel accommodations and wine tours, and recently partnered with Delta Airlines to provide in flight wines.

Philosophy: Possessing a “farmer spirit” embodied in their fusion of the tradition of their ancestors and innovation by constantly researching processes for improved grape growing and winemaking techniques. They want to “bring our clients closer to our winery” in order to show their passion for their land and wines, and for people “to enjoy the unforgettable sensations surrounding our wines”.

Winemaking: Sustainably farmed

Tasting Notes: Dark garnet in colour with powerful aromas of black currant, blackberry and cigar box spices. Tangy black currant and blackberry jam flavours were accented by hints of smoky earth, whilst crushed black peppercorn, toasty oak and traces of caramel comprised the spicy, elongated finish.

80% Tempranillo, 20% Garnacha
Produced and Bottled at the Property by Eguren Ugarte
13.5% Alcohol
Enjoy now thru 2015