2009 Ares Crianza, Rioja, Spain

Our local wine store was bringing all their Spanish wines to the mat, and in our last visit we grabbed several new reds that are now making their way to our humble table. A recent Tempranillo I’ve put off summarizing because it was largely forgettable, but this one is 180 degrees in the other direction. The 2009 Ares Crianza is a gem; it’s packed with a fruity, mossy scent and filled with both weight and substance.

Keeping my glass filled all night was a challenge, and regrettably I took no photo of this bottle as it was less and less full over the course of the evening. The 2009 Ares complimented juicy filet mignon, baked potato–pre-slashed and in need of only a sprinkle of salt–and a delicious pile of expertly cooked asparagus.  This guy drank his grapes from a Pinot Noir glass, and the Tempranillo showed off its muscle even in this crystal cage. Deep purple, damp, earnest, and lip-smacking–the Ares (my astrological sign) will be easy to remember.

I’ve learned that Rioja–which this wine is–is a term used to describe several red blends from Rioja. Tempranillo is at the heart of many of these blends, but Grenache and Carigan often play a role in a Rioja as well. But the 2009 Ares Crianza is supposed to be 100% Tempranillo, aged for 12 months in French oak, so Rioja must mean more than just Spanish red blends. Call it what you will, this one was fun and earned a place on our dinner table again in the future.

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