Maybe you have seen him.  I know I have.  His name is Faustino.  He is in airport duty free shops around the globe, and he is the most recognized label when it comes to classic Rioja wines.  Ladies and Gents, it’s Faustino!

Being, perhaps the most recognized Rioja label in the world (or is it the unique frosted bottle?), why had I not tired Faustino more often.  I only recall one other time drinking Faustino in recent memory.  So it was great abandoned and airport duty free fever that I purchased a gift pack of two bottles of Faustino 1999 Gran Reserva at London’s Hearthrow International (LHR).  After comparing prices I realized that this “two-fer” deal was actually a pretty good price so I sprung.

Despite being the airport duty free Rioja Gran Reserva deal of choice, Fasustino Gran Reserva is all in all a pretty good bottle of wine.  I mean, the current release would seem to be 1999, putting it into the well aged classic category.  And the flavor profile is very classic as well with red tart fruits mixing with a hint of balsamic and a quite striking acidity which suggests a long life.  Being that this is a Gran Reserva produced in mass quantities it lacks perhaps a bit of the breakout character that I have come to find in the best Rioja Gran Reservas, but that said, it does provide great typicity and at a fair price with wide availability.

Though over the past couple decades Faustino has expanded their line to include some more modern styled wines, they have kept up a long family tradition of producing classic Rioja styled wines from their massive holdings (650 hectares/1600 acres), one of the largest in Rioja in fact.  That it is still a family affair speaks to the classic Rioja nature even further, and it is nice to see that they added modern styled wines, but not at the expense of the traditional wines that made them world renowned.  According to the great book The Finest Wines of Rioja and Northwest Spain, they have over 50,0000 barrels and 9 million bottles of wine sitting in their bodega, an impressive feat.  I guess the take away is that despite the nostalgic frosted bottle and the duty free presence, Faustino (especially the Gran Reservas) merits it’s place in the international spotlight.  So maybe next time you fly you will buy as I did and see what old Faustino has to offer.