Mature Rioja is one of my favourite wines, especially from a top vintage like 2004. This pure Tempranillo from the ever-reliable Barón de Ley winery will appeal to lovers of traditional Rioja, even though it is a varietal, rather than a blend with Garnacha. It’s savoury and sweet, with supple wild strawberry and game-like flavours, lovely vanilla oak and a complex, nuanced finish. At its best with lamb, but it’s a very versatile red.
I sometimes feel as if I’m the president, founder and only member of the Carignan appreciation society, which is strange, given how good this grape can taste, especially when its vines are old. That’s the case here in this chunky Roussillon red, sourced from bush vines close to the Pyrenees. It’s a big, bold, appropriately rustic number with notes of thyme, rosemary and pepper spice, a touch of sweetness, bags of black fruits and a volatile lift. In short, classic Carignan.