Heras Cordon Rioja Reserva 2005
Something to know about Spanish wine producers is they like to hang on to their product. As much as any worldwide producer, Spaniards are apt to patiently bottle-age wines before introducing them to the retail trade, lagging vintages behind the pace of their more “modern” counterparts. The practice levels and integrates a red European wine’s more aggressive elements, like oak and tannins, rendering it approachable in the here and now. It’s an endearing display of sage self-restraint – an act you’d expect from your grandfather over your Ed Hardy-sporting cousin.
Sampling a wine like the Bodegas Heras Cordon Rioja Reserva bears out this practice of protraction and gives the drinker a sense of realized potential – an achievement that is less common with today’s wines than most wine lovers want to admit.
I first came across the Heras Cordon, a 2001, in Madrid and found it gorgeous, with abundant balance and elegance. The 2005 vintage, offered as a Chairman’s Selection at a respectable price of $19.99, is a close follower to the ‘01. After an hour-plus decant, I plunged my nose into its pungent, sense-flooding odor and the food-hungry Tempranillo (blended with 10-15% Mazuelo and Graciano grapes) instantly transported me to the Old World. I conjured a stable with sweetly decaying hay and a horse’s half-eaten apples, a rural autumnal scene of fermented, pungent glory. For a four-legged equivalent, picture a drop-dead, suave pig; a barnyard Banderas in his prime.
The Heras Cordon gives love to the palate, too: Smooth and layered with well-knitted tannins and impressive depth. Rich with cherry and spice, tobacco, leather, smokiness, earth and more, the display is ever-shifting. With more time in the air, the celebrated stink blows off and flavors of dark berries emerge to mix with the wine’s subtle herbal and metallic shading.
Spanish wines, like their EU brethren, are perfectly suited for mealtime, and this Reserva will match well with hearty foods like sausage-based tapas, stews, lamb and pork. With rare regality and a reasonable price tag, this red is one sexy beast for the cool season ahead.