Although not quite as structured or as tannic as its 2008 predecessor, the 2009 Valenciso Reserva more than compensates for its slighter build with explosive aromatics, lush fruit, and a hedonistic bent that thoroughly captivates from the moment it is poured. And as we have found with each and every vintage from this superbly-run estate, the 2009 Valenciso Reserva embodies much of the confidence, personality, and charm of winemaker Luis Valentin, one of the most engaging and meticulous winemakers we have ever encountered. Luis articulates his passion for wine and pursues excellence with an earnestness rarely seen today in any profession. Spending time with this gracious gentleman is always an inspiration and a reminder that to pursue the high road, wherever that road may lead, is the only choice. The warmer than average 2009 vintage yielded a very expansive 2009 Valenciso Reserva, a wine with a nose that works its magic from the moment it is poured and never stops expanding. The bouquet alone on this Valenciso Reserva is 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, violets, 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 the ideal balance between fruit and structure, characteristics that have consistently earned Valenciso international acclaim. We suggest serving the extraordinary 2009 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 several hours. And as we’ve learned from previous vintages, if un-opened and stored properly, the 2009 Valenciso will still drink beautifully a decade from now.
A wine as elegant and sophisticated as the 2009 Valenciso Rioja Reserva deserves some of the finest accompaniments one can bring to table. As a complex, elegant Rioja, the 2009 Valenciso Reserva pairs beautifully with traditional specialties from Rioja and the surrounding Ebro River region of Spain, yet there is no need to limit this aromatic, lush Rioja to local 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. Oxtail stew accompanied by a bottle of Valenciso Reserva remains a perennial favorite and brings back fond memories of incredible meals we enjoyed with Luis Valentin on a trip to Spain. 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 2009 Rioja Reserva. A bowl of tagliatelle pasta with wild boar ragu offers another mouthwatering accompaniment. If less means more to you, a plate of fine Spanish cheeses, a loaf of warm crusty bread, a few slices of perfectly cooked duck or rotisserie chicken, and some grilled vegetables are all the companionship the 2009 Valenciso Reserva needs to create a lasting memory. 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, came to fruition when Luis and Carmen 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 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-grade “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.
The 2009 Valenciso Rioja Reserva is every bit as impressive as Valenciso’s 2008 Rioja Reserva, which Decanter Magazine named Wine of the Year. The Decanter honor came 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. The 2009 Valenciso Rioja Reserva was similarly awarded a Gold Medal at the Sommelier Wine Awards, the UK’s first point of reference for the trade. Year in and year out, Valenciso fashions one of Rioja’s most impressive and enjoyable wines.
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