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Valenciso’s Rioja Reservas have been likened to “great symphonies.” They are captivating, harmonious, and ultimately inspiring. The 2005 Valenciso Reserva is all that and more, so sit back, relax and enjoy. This Reserva is another flawlessly balanced piece from Luis Valentin and Carmen Enciso that resonates with perfect pitch. Frankly, before tasting Valenciso’s 2005 Reserva, we thought it would be difficult for the wine to match the performance of Carmen and Luis’ inspired 2004 Reserva, but we were wrong. The bouquet alone of the 2005 Valenciso Reserva is worth the price of admission. It ingratiates with plenty of dark fruit aromas, mingled with the fresh scents of cedar, spice and dark chocolate. In the mouth, the wine caresses the palate with soft, silky fruit followed by layers of complex flavors that are ever long and evolving. Infused in the wine’s hedonistic fruit lay a satisfying underpinning of sandalwood, cinnamon, coffee, and fresh tobacco to tantalize the tongue – all of which linger for nearly a minute – before graciously waving good-bye. Valenciso’s Reserva always seem to strike a perfect balance between fruit and structure, and the 2005 is no exception. The 2005 Reserva’s velvety tannins add both structure and support, without imposing astringency. In fact, Valenciso’s 2005 Reserva comes across on the palate as downright velvety, even though it promises to evolve further in bottle for years to come. We suggest serving this extraordinary Rioja Reserva at cool room temperature (60º-64º F) after a half hour or more of aeration.
A wine as fine and ingratiating as the 2005 Valenciso Rioja Reserva deserves some of the finest accompaniments one can bring to table. As a complex, elegant Rioja, the 2005 Valenciso Reserva pairs beautifully with the traditional specialties of Rioja and the surrounding Ebro River region of Spain as well as with classic continental favorites. An entrée of grilled lamb chops, served with wild mushrooms sautéed in olive oil, garlic, and herbs gets our nod as does a traditional stew, prepared a la riojana, with chicken or game birds, white beans, chorizo sausage, peppers, paprika, and tomatoes. Venison stew served in a thick brown sauce, grilled venison tenderloin, and a slowly braised pork shoulder, served with tiny lentils, will also provide memorable pairings with this charismatic Reserva. On a simpler note, a plate of fine Spanish cheeses and a loaf of warm crusty bread or a few slices of perfectly cooked duck or rotisserie chicken, accompanied by grilled vegetables and onions, offer all the companionship the 2005 Valenciso Reserva needs to resonate. Salud!
The Compania Bodeguera de Valenciso is the artistry of Luis Valentin and Carmen Enciso. The name Valenciso, a combination of the proprietors’ two last names, was born when the partners left their respective positions at one of Rioja’s oldest and most prestigious bodegas. With a shared a vision of creating a truly boutique Rioja in their own cellar, Luis and Carmen have created one of the finest and most seductive of all Rioja wines. Their dream has come to life each vintage in the outstanding Rioja Reserva that flows harmoniously from their bodega into our glasses.
The secret to the nearly instantaneous success of Valenciso is the criteria Luis and Carmen apply to their wines. All of Valenciso’s wines are made in very small lots or cuvees. Each relies upon the inherent greatness in old vine Tempranillo, the quintessential Spanish grape varietal that steals the heart and defines the soul of Rioja. In addition, yields in the vineyard are kept draconically small in order to fashion wines of finesse, flavor, and symphonic harmony. Moreover, only small barriques are used for aging, a third of which are renewed annually. French oak predominates and all of it is of cork “flor” quality, the highest level possible. Yet, without expert winemaking, all of these measures would be of marginal value at best. With a string of successes that began with Valenciso’s inaugural vintage in 2000, Luis and Carmen have come to realize their dream. Only Rioja Reserva is made at Valenciso, and no wine is released until it is at least four years of age and able to comport itself in the glass. This month’s feature (the 2005 Valenciso Reserva) is the estate’s most recent offering.
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