It is easy to like Luis Valentin and Valenciso’s elegant, fragrant 2008 Rioja Reserva. Luis Valentin, one of the most engaging winemakers we have encountered, exudes true charm, quiet confidence and genuine self-assurance born of discipline, patience, and a true love of people and wine. Luis articulates his passion for wine and the pursuit of excellence with an earnestness rarely seen today in any profession. Spending time with this gracious gentleman is a lesson in humility as well as an inspiration to pursue the high road, wherever that road may lead. Luis’ innate charm and personality once again make their appearance in 2008 in Valenciso’s complex 2008 Rioja Reserva. After spending a few minutes with this wine, you will see why Decanter Magazine, Britain’s “Bible of Wine,” bestowed the honor of Wine of the Year on the 2008 Valenciso Rioja Reserva. Valenciso’s 2008 Reserva captivates the nose from the moment it is poured and it never stops expanding, which makes the bouquet of this wine alone worth the price of admission. Produced from 100% Tempranillo, this wine delights the nose with savory scents of red and black fruits, woodland berries, sandalwood, cinnamon and other exotic spices. In the mouth, the wine displays a beautiful, super smooth texture as it unfolds slowly and persistently in true Rioja Alta fashion to reveal a wellspring of fruit, spice, and warm wood flavors. Moreover, layers of complex flavors tantalize the palate and linger long after the wine slips down the throat. Once again, Valenciso’s Reserva strikes a perfect balance between fruit and structure, which has earned this offering international acclaim. We suggest serving the extraordinary 2008 Valenciso Rioja Reserva at cool room temperature (60º-64º F) after an hour or more of aeration. However, there’s no need to be in a hurry: this Rioja Reserva will evolve in a glass or decanter for hours. And if un-opened and stored properly, it will still drink beautifully a decade from now.
A wine as elegant and sophisticated as the 2008 Valenciso Rioja Reserva deserves some of the finest accompaniments one can bring to table. As a complex, elegant Rioja, the 2008 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. However, one of the most memorable meals we enjoyed on a recent trip to Spain was a delicious oxtail stew accompanied by a bottle of Valenciso Reserva. Venison stew served in a thick brown sauce, grilled venison tenderloin, or a slowly braised pork shoulder served with tiny lentils, also provide memorable pairings with Valenciso’s charismatic 2008 Rioja 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 2008 Valenciso Reserva needs to resonate. Salud!
Editor’s Note: Decanter Magazine has named the 2008 Valenciso Rioja Reserva “Wine of the Year.” This honor comes on the heels of Valenciso’s exceptional 2007 Rioja Reserva, which garnered 93 points and high praise from Robert Parker’s The Wine Advocate and stole the show at the Sommelier Wine Awards, where an international coterie of sommeliers awarded the 2007 Valenciso Rioja Reserva a Gold Medal and deemed it Finest Wine of Show out of 2,000 entries. Valenciso’s 2008 Rioja Reserva is even more impressive than the 2007.
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, came to fruition when Luis and Carmen left their respective positions at one of Rioja’s oldest and most prestigious bodegas. With a shared 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 comes 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 making wines. 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. Yields in the vineyard are kept draconically small in order to fashion wines of finesse, flavor, and symphonic harmony. In addition, all of Valenciso’s wines are made in very small lots, or cuvees, in the cleanest, most impeccably run winery we have ever visited. 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 made their dream come true.
Only two wines are made at Valenciso: Rioja Reserva and a minute quantity of exceptional white Rioja. No Valenciso Rioja Reserva is released until it attains a minimum of four years of age and is able to comport itself in the glass.
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