Rioja continues to send us mature wines at reasonable prices like the Bodegas Bilbainas 2004 Vina Pomal Centenario Reserva.
Rioja has the longest and most noble wine history in Spain. In 1102, the King of Navarre and Aragon gave legal recognition to its wines. In Rioja, winemakers traditionally would not sell a wine until they believed it was ready to drink. In the last century, as areas were granted appellation status, this custom was codified in the country’s wine regulations. Rioja’s hierarchy of aging red wines falls into four categories: Joven, a young wine with no aging requirement; crianza, aged at least one year in the barrel and the bottle and not sold before its third year; reserva, aged at least three years with not less than one year in the barrel and not sold before its fourth year; and gran reserva, aged at least two years in barrel and a minimum of three years in bottle.
These aging requirements are beneficial to wine consumers. For those without wine cellars, it makes it possible to purchase a wine like the 2004 Vina Pomal Centenario Reserva and enjoy it without further aging. And thanks to the tradition of making reserva and gran reserva wines only in the best vintages, wine collectors can cellar these wines for additional complexity. Add the reasonable prices of most Rioja wines, and you have every reason to want them.
The Bodegas Bilbainas 2004 Vina Pomal Centenario Reserva is a prime example of the benefits of Rioja’s system. It is made only from tempranillo, Rioja’s primary red wine grape, grown in Bilbainas’ vineyards in the highly-regarded Rioja Alta zone. The 2004 Vina Pomal Centenario Reserva spent 18 months in American oak barrels before bottling. The wine has a bright-red hue and aromas of rose hips, white pepper and cranberry. Its medium body carries a tasty tart cherry-cranberry fruit flavor with integrated tannins, cleansing acidity, and a pleasing finish.
Rioja wines like the Bodegas Bilbainas 2004 Vina Pomal Centenario Reserva cry for food, and I enjoyed it with a plate of penne pasta tossed with tomatoes, yellow and red bell peppers, and black olive tapenade. It will create smiles around the table with roasted or grilled chicken, salmon or tuna, or a vegetable casserole of eggplant, portobello mushrooms and tomatoes seasoned with rosemary.
The Bodegas Bilbainas 2004 Vina Pomal Centenario Reserva retails for approximately $24.