Rioja Gran Reserva 2015 – Baron de Ley
Style: Red
Country: Spain
Region: Rioja
Grape: Tempranillo
Score: 90-94
Price: 20-35 euro

Rioja Gran Reserva 2015 – Baron de Ley.

Amongst seventy DOs in Spain, Rioja is one of the only two wine regions, with the highest status, DOCa. Barón de Ley is a winery located in the Rioja, and their authentic style of Rioja wine yet with high cost-performance have acclaimed as “an eye-opening example of Rioja Reserva” from globally famous review site. In this review, we are taking a look at the Grand Reserva 2015 produced by Baron de Ley, with the difference between traditional and modern style of Rioja.

About the Region

Rioja has an interesting winemaking trend from the historical perspective. Located in the north of Spain along the path of River Ebro, which is surprisingly close to the Bordeaux over the Pyrenees thus its winemaking had improved influenced by the Bordeaux end of the 19C, including the use of 225L barriques. In 1926, Rioja also became the first Spanish wine region due to its reputation for the quality. During the isolation period by the dictatorship in mid-20C, Rioja had a strong relationship with the USA and hence, American oak become dominant vessels for aging. Before 1990s, which is sometimes called the traditional style, undergoing aging for a certain long period in American oak was common, resulting in wines with aromas of dried fruit, mushroom, cured meats, vanilla and coconut. In 1990s, some of premium wines (called ‘vino de autor’) moved to a modern style, in which wines are made of grapes ripen, concentrated and structured by aging in new French oak. Now most of the wines are somewhere between two extremes. In Rioja, blending has been common, and Tempranillo is its dominant variety.

About the Winery

Barón de Ley was founded in 1985 as a ground-breaking project in DOCa Rioja: a vineyard-focused winery inspired by the Médoc châteaux and now one of the largest producers in Rioja, making complex and pure “21st century style” Reserva wines. Cask-ageing in Bordeaux-style oak casks, one of the key pillars in the production of fine Rioja wines, finds a true sanctuary in Barón de Ley’s barrel cellar and the result are elegant, fresh, and pure wines in great complexity. Despite of the size to distribute about 50 countries, their wines are 100% Estate-bottled, with the commitment is to the land and quality.

About the Wine

This is made with Tempranillo and Graciano, sourcing from Cenicero in Rioja Alta, whose vines are the oldest, producing wines with excellent longevity. After hand-harvest and hand-sorting, it is seriously crafted. The wine is then aged for a minimum of 24 months in American and French oak casks and for a further 36 months in bottle and this long aging process are contributing to the outstanding complexity. 

Medium ruby color with brick-red hues, expecting complexity by a certain long aging. On the nose, great aroma intensity with a range of developing characters. Savory, earthiness and sweet oak aromas take you to the typical Rioja Gran Reserva world. This is not fruit-forwarded pure fruity wine, but a complex example with generous secondary and tertiary aromas yet with fresh floral and spice edge. Leather, earth, tobacco, mocha, roasted coffee, coconuts, vanilla, butterscotch, clove, cedar, followed by fresh dill, lavender, ginger, saffron. Sweet spice such as nutmeg, cinnamon accentuate red fruit character of cranberry, strawberry, and red berry. On the palate, fresher with vibrant acidity than expected from the nose, and they are well-integrated and rounded texture. 

Conclusion: Pure, complex and elegant, a great example of Rioja Gran Reserva. It is remarkable value for money wine that this wine is available in the €20 range.

This review is written by Kazumi Uejo, on behalf of Dutch Wine Apprentice. The wine is available online at Bovino

Price:                           €22,75

Taste date:                  November 2022

Score:                           92/100 DWA Score

Website:                      Baron de Ley