I am pretty much a Rioja fanatic. This much is true (cue Spandow Ballet).  It may not be Barolo, but it’s from Spain and I like it a lot.   So here is a little roundup of a bunch of Reservas that I have picked up recently.  La Rioja Alta has been a favorite since go, and I have wanted to try the Monte Real wines for a while as they are considered to be old school Rioja as well.  As for Marqués de Cáceres, you see their wine everywhere, this is the first time I am trying their Reserva, and I have not had anything from Bodegas Lan either.  Just out there trying some different Riojas and comparing them to one I already know and love, Viña Ardanza.

2000 La Rioja Alta, Viña Ardanza Reserva, Rioja

This traditional styled Rioja Reserva is medium garnet in color and the nose is black cherries, green peppers, pine, and light toasty wood.   The mouth feel is sour cherries and there is a slightly oily quality.  There are moderate tannins and a decided tartness on the finish.   The character of the wine is slightly Burgundian, or I should say, if you like Burgundy, you make like this Rioja. Definitely an old school Rioja. I like this wine a lot and it is widely available for under $30.  MUST BUY – HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

2003 Bodegas Riojanas, Monte Real Reserva, Rioja

Medium red garnet in color, the nose on the Monte Real is for lovers of black liquorish.  There are also hints of camphor, anise, and dark cherry fruit.  But the menthol aroma is quite something.   The mouth feel is rich and round, and it tastes young and fresh.  The 2003 vintage was hot, so it makes for a more plush style of wine.  Seems somewhere between new school and old school, but I would still put it closer to old school.  Love the nose.  Almost outstanding.  HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

2004 Marqués de Cáceres Reserva, Rioja

This is the Reserva bottling of what is probably the most recognized label of Rioja in the world, Marqués de Cáceres.   Classic medium red garnet in color, the nose seemed a bit closed down to me.  With a little air there were hints of light cherry and light toasty oak.  In the mouth the acidity is solid, moderate tannins, and the fruit and wood are balanced, but it lacks a distinctive character.  Tastes like a solid go to Rioja Reserva, but is not extremely memorable.  ON THE FENCE

2004 Bodegas LAN Reserva, Rioja

Medium to dark garnet in color. On the nose there are light berry elements, light toasty oak, burnt rubber, and watermelon.  The mouth feel is fairly plush with light tannins and moderate acidity.  The wine is solid, maybe a go to bottle in a restaurant, but nothing that really makes it a standout.  ON THE FENCE