In the Spanish wine region of Rioja, the wine control board – Consejo Regulador DOCa Rioja – designates four different styles of Rioja wine: Rioja, Crianza, Reserva and Gran Reserva. Crianza – which is the focus of this column – is probably the most accessible of the Rioja wines, with most selling for under (and sometimes well-under) $15 per bottle.
A Crianza wine is aged a minimum of one year in casks and a few months in the bottle. This particular wine – Vivanco Crianza 2016 ($12) was aged for 16 months in French and American oak barrels and then aged in the bottle for at least 6 more months.
Crianza isn’t a wine to cellar away and ponder while sipping. These wines are easy-drinking, everyday wines. In fact, even though Vivanco Crianza is a red wine made primarily with Tempranillo grapes, it’s a wine that can benefit from a light chilling before serving.
It’s bright red color in the glass gives way to spicy, smoky aromas of fresh red fruit. On the tongue, this young wine is fresh and fruity with red fruit flavors and subtle, oaky notes. The wine is full-bodied and well-balanced and would pair well with Spanish tapas, barbecue, Mediterranean cuisine, grill meats and pastas with red sauce.
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Originally trained as an anthropologist, Ted Scheffler is a seasoned food, wine & travel writer based in Utah. He loves cooking, skiing, and spends an inordinate amount of time tending to his ever-growing herd of guitars and amplifiers.