Wednesday’s WoW! – Carlos Serres Rioja Gran Reserva 2001

Ten Years Young

Carlos Serres Rioja Gran Reserva 2001It’s very unusual to see older vintages at the LCBO so when I saw this 10 year old Carlos Serres Rioja Gran Reserva at Vintages for only $27.95 I just had to buy it.  I wasn’t disappointed. Its captivating, complex, and mature aromas had me hooked from the start.  (Interestingly, there is another 2001 Rioja Gran Reserva right now as well, Rioja Bordon Gran Reserva 2001.  I have not yet tried it.)

Bodegas Carlos Serres

The story of Carlos Serres is an interesting one.  He was born in France in 1862 and went on to become one of France’s best wine consultants.  At the end of the 19th century, the vineyards of France were being devastated by phylloxera, so Carlos set out to find an area outside of France that would be able to produce wines of great quality.  He soon discovered that the area around the city of Haro, Spain had similar geography and climate to that of the best areas in Bordeaux.  In 1896 Bodegas Carlos Serres was founded in Haro, with a focus on a new style of Spanish wine with a Bordeaux influence.  Determined to bring the elegant wines of Rioja to the rest of the world, Carlos Serres was the first Bodegas in Rioja to be registered as an ‘export merchant’.  Carlos was the founder of the ‘Rioja Wine Exporter’s Syndicate’, the forerunner of today’s ‘Consejo Regulador’, making him one of the pioneers of the Rioja wines we know today.

Rioja 2001

The 2001 vintage is one of the best vintages ever in Rioja.  The DOCa Rioja Control Board Plenary awarded the 2001 vintage “Excellent”, the highest rating possible.  This decision was made after the spectacular results of the DOCa approval process that all wines must undergo in order to label themselves as DOCa Rioja.  Up to 2001, only 9 vintages in the last century had been awarded an “Excellent” rating, the most recent being 1995, 1994, and 1982.  Since 2001 there have been 3 more: 2004, 2005, and most recently 2010.

Carlos Serres Gran Reserva Winemaking

Carlos Serres Gran Reserva is a blend of 85% Tempranillo, 10% Graciano, and 5% Mazuelo (aka Carignan).  All the grapes are hand-picked from vines that are an average of 30 years old.  The wine was aged for 36 months in a combination of French and American oak barrels, with a further 36 months in bottle before being released (the minimum ageing requirement for Gran Reservas is 5 years, including 2 years in barrel).

Tasting Notes

Carlos Serres Rioja Gran Reserva 2001 is a medium garnet colour with mature, earthy aromas of leather, earth, mushroom, vanilla, red plum, dried fig, and sweet spice.  Medium-bodied, with an alluring silky texture, fine, well-integrated tannins, and a long, lingering finish.  Ready to drink now.  Enjoy with cinnamon-spiced venison, roasted pork with mushroom risotto, or aged cheeses.

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