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Two Perfect Rioja Wines For Easter Lunch

Stephen Barrett Stephen Barrett
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Rioja Wines for Easter lunch

Read on for two Rioja wines, perfectly suited to elevate your Easter feast.

Easter heralds the start of spring. I'm a big fan, and find it a good excuse for the first family get-together of the year. A time, as Geoffrey Palmer would say, to "slam on the lamb", and to which I'll add, to "pull the stopper on a Rioja" (sorry).

Traditional fare such as poached salmon, new season lamb, and early spring time fruit dishes are eagerly anticipated. I particulalry look forward to the first rhubarb of the year.

The Fish One

Salmon could be easily replaced with any other excellent, fresh, local fish, but the thought of a large fish, simply roasted with fresh herbs and citrus appeals to me. White wine is the king here but with enough depth of flavour to match the side dishes usually offered.

I know you're probably thinking that Rioja wines are red. Not always. Less well known, but equally as delicious, Rioja Blanco is every bit as good as its red counterparts.

Good Rioja blanco is a textured, fruit-driven wine. Sometimes with oak and sometimes not. In days of yore Rioja Blanco was always fermented in small barrels of American oak. The style that evolved was a power bomb of vanilla scented, deep-fruited, spicy wine.

There are similarities to some village white Burgundies. But here the wine is made with the grape viura (as opposed to Chardonnay) which can have a closed character that takes an age to mature. 

Since 2007 the Spanish wine authorities have allowed a greater quantity of white grapes to be used enabling White Rioja to be a chameleon of the white wine world. Now offered with grapes such as Tempranillo Blanco, Verdejo and even Chardonnay the wine has changed.

My tip is to stay with a wine with a couple of blended grapes.

Gómez Cruzado Blanco 2 Año 2019, Rioja

Gómez Cruzado Blanco 2 Año 2019, Rioja


Gomez Cruzado's Blanco '2 Ano' is a Burgundian style white Rioja which reflects the land, rather than purely varietal expression. The resulting white wine has...… read more

Gomez Cruzado Rioja Blanco is elaborated mainly with Viura and a little touch of Tempranillo Blanco. In a gentle nod to Burgundy the wine has had some minimal oak internment. The Tempranillo brings floral and citrus notes, creating a fine balance.

The Lamb One

A leg of Westcountry lamb raises any lunch to a feast, and Easter is the perfect opportunity to splash out. Roast it simply, seasoning and adding enough garlic and rosemary to compliment the flavour.

This demands a Rioja tinto, the red brother to Rioja blanco. Rioja wines are much loved by the UK wine cognoscenti, they come to the market in many different guises:

  • Joven (young with no oak)
  • Crianza (24 months in oak and bottle)
  • Reserva (36 months in oak and bottle)
  • Gran Reserva (72 months on oak and bottle)

It is safe to say the longer in oak and bottle (before release) the more intense flavours ensue. 

Lamb is a delicate meat and deserves a red with similar style. This points me to the a crianza with red fruit and subtle oak notes always offering a balance to the juicy Lamb.

Hacienda el Ternero Crianza 'Torno' 2017, Rioja

Hacienda el Ternero Crianza 'Torno' 2017, Rioja


The name `Torno` stems from the old Monastery; the monks would place food and clothing onto the base of a rotating door which they would...… read more

Torno, Hacienda El Tereno from an historic Bodega in the heart of Rioja is a bottle aged tinto of renown. Now offered in excellent condition, showing elegance, spice and fruit balance.

Browse our full selection of Rioja wines

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