Taron Cepas Centenarias Rioja 2010

Recently, it came to our attention that the PLCB is trialing an exploratory  “focus program” highlighting a variety of wine regions at its premium stores. As part of the pilot, Rioja will be a push in October explained Bob Trimble, head of luxury product management for the state agency. Trimble and his regional buyers select the wines to be featured, then provide the in-store specialists with background and selling points, making for a “turnkey” process, he explained.

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The program is basking in early success, according to Trimble. As a proof point, he pointed to a two-week span where 25 stores featured Pinot Noir from Willamette Valley, resulting in a 37% increase in bottle sales.

As it so happens, I had set my lips to an exemplary Rioja worth reporting on. The Cepas Centenarias from Rioja’s Bodegas Tarón blends classic and modern styles of Spanish winemaking. For example, all grapes are from one sub-region, Alta, and spend a short time in barrels – making for a younger, or joven, style. The vines, however are in the neighborhood of 100 years of age. That’s, well, traditional. The wine is also elegant, intense and worthy of its luxury tariff. The selling point is impeccable balance.

Polished yet packing girth, it’s intensely and deeply plum-colored. The clarity of the fruit combined with acidic and tannic structure will allow for a few years of bottle age (if you so choose), but it’s also built for present-day consumption. Think ripe black cherries and strawberries with a few tarty outliers tossed in. There’s tobacco-earthiness, coffee and the moderate woody effect of seven months in new French oak. The wonderfully evolved tannins give texture and welcome chewiness. Serve slightly chilled with the aid of 20 minutes in the fridge. 13.5% ABV.

The Tarón is a celebratory bottle, a great gift candidate or a personal reward for the good taste of selecting a quality Rioja. At $25.99 in PA, it may be $5 to $10 more than some of us are accustomed to laying out but know that you’re not going to find this fine wine widely in the States. Trimble says the Tarón is currently available in 47 premium collections stores.

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