The sky gently burns a passionate red, reflecting on the water as the sun nods goodbye to another beautiful day. Clouds of dust streak through the transcendent light in zigzags along beaten dirt tracks while screams and laughter fill the warm, pine scented air. There’s the occasional glimpse of tail lights on a curved black rear before they suddenly vanish around another bend, screeches of brakes and raucous laughter once more erupting into the night sky.
The morning is different, quiet and relaxed, the dust has settled. Boats bob gently on the lake waiting for a day of work while the dogs rest their heads on the laps of humans suffering sore heads and aching muscles, a good pain. Once replenished, happy souls begin flip flopping their way down to a well-trod pontoon, their bodies preparing themselves to be carried, launched and seduced by the inviting water. Music, engines and merriment replace the silence, and the cycle begins once more.
I have just returned to a somewhat rainy England after a long weekend wakeboarding in Cordoba, Spain. It’s funny really, I was told there was a little honesty bar and ‘it’s not really a drinking holiday.’ Alas it turned into quite the opposite and so, here is a review of some of the many wines that were drunk, spilt and downed. I should also just note about the importance of nattering to strangers…no matter how tall the language barriers. We chose to visit the local pizzeria one evening and I sat with a Swiss girl (cracking wakeboarder) called Tanya and we got talking about wine. Turns out her knowledge was outrageous after spending a month each year touring vineyards across Italy with the in-laws, so interesting.
Note: I was very stubborn about the wine app Vivino when it came up in conversation while away because I felt like it would be cheating taking other peoples tasting notes. I’ve since seen sense and recommend it enormously because not only does it help you make sure you’re not paying too much – it shows you where you can buy similar tasting wines, gives you great detail into the region etc. etc. etc. so thank you Stumpy.
Marques de Caceres, Crianza 2012, Rioja
You can buy this for £12.95 from KWM Wines & Spirits here in the UK if you want a taste of a solid Spanish red. It was served quite cold which surprised me, but tasted really fruity and earthy. the fruitiness is deep but also quite fresh which paired with the lower temp of the wine was perfect.
Ramon Bibao, Crianza 2014, Rioja
A competition of the Rioja…when in Rome.
I really like the simplicity of the label on this bottle as a side note. The wine itself was incredibly smooth, it’s 13.5% where the others have been 14%. You can buy it for £7.55 on Decantolo where there is also a bit of history behind the wine:
“Ramón Bilbao Crianza is a classic Rioja wine made by Bodegas Ramon Bilbao, a winery that has more than a century of history. It was founded in 1924 by Don Ramón Bilbao Murga, although since 1896, Don Ramón ran a small winery in Haro selling his first wines. Ramón Bilbao Crianza is a varietal wine made from Tempranillo grapes, a typical variety of La Rioja, from various fields. The grapes are harvested at their peak of ripeness by being monitored, which takes place throughout the cycle. The grapes are destemmed and each plot is fermented separately at a controlled temperature of 28-29ºC. The wine is run off quickly once the desired colour is achieved. Ramón Bilbao Crianza is aged for 14-months in American oak barrels. Once it has finished aging, it spends 8 months in bottle before going to market. Ramón Bilbao Crianza is a classic of La Rioja. Fruity, balanced and perfectly tuned due to the work done with the oak barrels.”
Marques de Caceres, Reserva 2010, Rioja
We really went for it on the Rioja didn’t we. This is a real earthy hard-working red that I really enjoyed. You can find it on Fine Wines Direct UK for £14.99.
Reserva Ribera del Duero 2013
This complex and delicious red was also served fairly cold, the Spanish are really on it with their wine. It’s quite a wintery red you’d enjoy with a steak, roast beef or a hearty stew. I ordered what I thought was a steak but sadly it was pork, must work on my Spanish.
Arnegu Reserva Rioja 2012
It’s difficult to review wines when they’re all this good, but someone has to do it. This was served a little warmer and is a sweet red, with hints of cherry but well-balanced so that it’s not head-achy, make sense?
Baron de las Minas, Rioja, Reserva 2011
So my Dad does this weird thing when I come back from holiday where he sort of cooks what I’ll have been eating while I’m away. It’s strange I admit but he is a bit strange and I never complain where prawns are involved. I got back to the farm last night, smothered the horses and dogs in kisses and as expected, was presented with prawns and even more fascinatingly another bottle of Rioja, this one was from Sainsbury’s at a tasty £7.50. It’s smooth, there are hints of oak, perfect for a Monday night after lots of travelling.