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Wine Find: 2006 Lacrimus Rioja Crianza in PA

October 26, 2010

Here’s a good Wine Find: the 2006 Lacrimus Rioja Crianza. It’s available at Pennsylvania Wine & Spirits stores; I found it at 12th & Chestnut. It’s part of a major purchase by the State, so it’s a wine that actually won’t be found in neighboring states. It’s ostensibly a good deal at only $12.99, my hedging on calling it an outright great bargain is that you can’t really compare the price since it can’t be found anywhere else nearby, though they do say it would normally retail for about $24. (A quick search on the internet turned it up in Puerto Rico at that price, and also in Germany and England, but no where else in the US.)

Let me decipher the Old World wine jargon before describing the wine itself. Rioja is a region in Spain, and a red wine labeled as such will be primarily made from the tempranillo grape. Blending is allowed, and this wine contains about 15% graciano, which will be important to us later. That last word, Crianza, signifies part of Spanish wine law that governs aging of wine prior to release. A Crianza is a wine that is aged for at least two years, and also at least one year of that must be in oak (for those familiar with these regulations, Rioja typically insists on longer periods than other parts of Spain).

The wine itself is a good example of the flavors and qualities that we’d expect from Rioja. Black cherry, blackberry, a nice touch of the oak we’d expect of a Crianza or older wine, but not too much. Maybe even a touch of vanilla from the oak barrique (small barrels). It has nice balance, good firm tannins and acidity, and a nice structure even for a fairly young wine. It could stand to be decanted to open up the flavors and calm the alcohol on the nose and finish.

The really fun aspect of this wine? It should easily improve with some more age. Tempranillo can age, especially when seasoned á la Rioja as a Crianza, Reserva or Gran Reserva. The grape graciano is selected partly because it can age so well. Remember that this wine is 15% graciano? Yes! My last post was about aging wine, now here’s a good candidate at a great price to try it out.

A review from a big wine magazine that was reprinted on the Wine & Spirits store display said that this wine should develop for 2 – 3 years, but would drink best between 2012 and 2018. When a wine that is fairly young like this one shows good structure, with ample fruit and developing flavors, good acidity and tannins, well, we’ve got that age-able wine. To find a wine like this that’s only $12.99? Yeah, I’ll be heading back for more soon to put some away in my basement. It will be fun to try some in a year or two, in three or four years, maybe one more five years from now and see how it develops. The price is reasonable enough to do so.

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