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Opinon & Lifestyle

Perfect Rioja Picks For Easter

Picture of Stephen Barrett

Easter falls in mid April this year so fine Spring weather could be expected! I like this time of the year and like most of you in the Westcountry will relax over the four-day holiday. For many it’s the first time that a family lunch is planned and traditional fare such as Salmon, Lamb and early springtime fruit dishes (Rhubarb!) are often the norm.

Salmon could also easily be replaced with our excellent local Fish with ease but the thought of a larger 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.

So what would be my preferred choice? 

Rioja Blanco immediately comes to mind with its textured, fruit-driven style 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! Similarities to some village White Burgundy come to mind but made with the grape Viura it had a closed fruit character that often took ages 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, learn more about its taste and style, perhaps changing the blend another time to experiment? 

My choice is Gomez Cruzado Rioja Blanco 2019 - elaborated mainly with Viura offering a gentle nod to Burgundy this has had some minimal oak internment. The Tempranillo Blanco adds a floral and citrus note creating a fine balance.

Gomez Cruzado 2 Ano Blanco

Westcountry Lamb is also something special for Easter, simply roasted but maybe with the addition of Garlic and Rosemary for added flavour. The red wine I would choose is the red brother to the White Rioja, yes Rioja Tinto! Much loved by the UK wine sippers it comes 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) and 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 Rioja Crianza with its red fruit and subtle oak notes always offering a balance to the juicy Lamb. My choice is Torno, Hacienda El Tereno 2016 from an historic Bodega in the heart of Rioja comes a bottle aged Tinto of renown. Now offered in excellent condition, showing elegance, spice and fruit balance.

Hacienda El Ternero "Torno", Crianza RIoja

Originally featured in the Western Morning News 26/03/2022