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'Zilla Wine and Tunes Pairing

The two essential elements of the CORKZILLA experience – Wine and music – in a pairing. Our signature feature will continue in 2013, but we've decided to take a break from the grind of producing thoughtful pairings on a monthly basis. Please look for an archive page highlighting our pairings from the past coming soon. Cheers!

What We're Listening to

Keith Richards, "Crosseyed Heart," Republic Records

Gary Clark Jr., "The Story of Sonny Boy Slim," Warner Brothers Records

Warren Haynes Featuring Railroad Earth, "Ashes and Dust," Concord Records

Jason Isbell, "Something More Than Free," Southeastern Records

Phish, "Live Bait Vol. 11" (free digital download)

Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds, "Chasing Yesterday," Sour Mash Records

Neil Young, "On the Beach," Reprise Records

Massive Attack, "Protection," Circa Records

D'Angelo and the Vanguard, "Black Messiah," RCA Records

Brokedown in Bakersfield, "Live!," Little Sur Records

Ryan Adams, "Ryan Adams," Pax-Am Records

Rich Robinson, "The Ceaseless Sight," The End Records

Jack White, "Lazaretto," Third Man Records

The Wayne Shorter Quartet, "Without a Net," Blue Note Records

Reach out to CORKZILLA
« Wine on the Hill | Main | Welcome to CORKZILLA! »

Rioja In the Shadows of Alamo Square

By Ben Heskett

The copious red stains on the glassware, table and counter tops were a dead giveaway – A festive wine tasting had spilled over into a full-throttle party. Before the music got louder, and my friends more boisterous, the gathered throng of less than a dozen recently tasted several different types of the Spanish varietal Rioja.

One stand out of the tasting was mildly surprising – an entrant more associated with “value” wines and of more recent vintage:

  • 2008 Cortijo Rioja (With a bright orange label)

It tasted fresh and was full-bodied, lacking the subtleties of the older choices, but provides good value in the $10 or so category.

One friend of mine at the tasting, with a good deal of wine knowledge, found frequent instances of “Brett” (For Brettanomyces) in the older Rioja vintages we tasted. In small amounts, Brett is often thought to enhance wines and contribute to complexity, but in abundance can often be ascribed as a wine’s weakness, contributing to “off” odors.

Overall, our older choices were far more earthy and subtle, lacking some distinction. Further research is required for me, and my friends, to make a true assessment. Here’s the rundown of the Rioja wines we tasted: 

I have a couple of observations and draw a couple of conclusions from this tastings. First, I was surprised at the price of the older vintages we tasted – No Rioja we tried was over $35/$40, despite a couple of choices from the 1990s. Second, as mentioned, these older vintages were tougher to distinguish, but certainly enjoyable to the palate.

I’ve concluded from this initial foray into Spanish Rioja that there are numerous characteristics of these wines that I need to look for and that further exploration and understanding of the underlying agriculture/terroir and stellar years will yield a wider away of flavors. Also, I believe that some of the more recent vintages may offer more diverse flavors. So the journey - and the festivities - continue.

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