Riojas are aged in oak barrels, and then further aged in the bottle before they are shipped from the wineries. When you find them in stores, you can drink them immediately—or lay them down to continue aging.
You can find the excellent 2001 vintage at retailers now. If you’re looking for a change of pace—or a Mother’s Day gift—pick up a bottle. Riservas can be bought in the $30 range (non-reserve Riojas for everyday drinking can be found for $10).
For a Mother’s Day gift—or for your own edification—combine the bottle of wine with the newly published book, The Wine Region Of Rioja. You may be tempted to take your next vacation there.
Gran Reserva Rioja
If you like Rioja reservas, you can graduate to the gran reservas: wines that are aged for six years at the winery (called a bodega in Spain). They then need to be put down to age for for 20 years after the vintage. They’re a treat for those who have the time to wait.
At age 20 or older, the black cherry and raspberry flavors of Rioja wines evolve to reveal secondary notes of leather and truffles. Mmm!
If you decide to buy a gran reserva gift, put a small label on the back of the bottle, such as “For Mother‘s Day 2012: Enjoy in 2025. From Beth and Tim.”
Two decades from now, they’ll thank you again!