Drinks of the Month | Cune Gran Reserva Rioja Imperial 2005

Drinks of the Month

Cune Gran Reserva Rioja Imperial 2005

It’s easy to overlook the familiar in favour of the esoteric, particularly when you’re a wine writer but it’s hard to think of a bottle that consistently gives more pleasure than Cune’s Gran Reserva Imperial Rioja.

OK, it’s not cheap but even the recommended retail price of £26.99 is not a great deal to pay for a wine that you can rely on to impress. After all most champagne special offers bring them down to this sort of price and most people think that makes them a good buy.

Gran reserva, for those of you who are not familiar with the term, is the top wine classification of the Rioja region. A wine that has been aged for five years, a minimum of two in oak and a further three in bottle. This wine is already over eight years old

Having enjoyed the 2001 and 2004 (which I've just discovered was voted Wine Spectactor wine of the year) I was a little apprehensive about the 2005 - an unusually hot vintage - but it has the same seductive, soft, velvety fruit that other gran reservas struggle to preserve. The Rioja authorities categorised the vintage ‘excellent’ but then all their vintages are rated at least ‘good’.

The obvious food pairings would be roast lamb, feathered game like pheasant and pigeon and sheeps’ cheese but we enjoyed it with a very intensely flavoured fish stew at a friend's last night and it sailed through.

It’s widely stocked so it’s worth checking wine-searcher.com for the best current price. Winedirect.co.uk and Eton Vintners have it for £24.95 and D. Byrne of Clitheroe who are not online for £22.99*. You might be able to find the 2007 (a "very good" vintage according to the Consejo Regulador) a little cheaper but having won the Wine Spectator's endorsement the 2004 will cost a lot more. If you can even find a bottle . . .

* Apologies for earlier, lower prices which related to the reserva not the gran reserva.


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