It’s a perfect January evening. I’m cuddled up on my sofa with a glass of wine in hand listening to Joni Mitchel serenade me through the speakers. The sweet smell of scented candles wafts through my living room as a hearty stew bubbles away on the stove. Outside, a layer of soft white snow has transformed my concrete courtyard into a winter wonderland. It’s a warm, wine-filled wintry kind of evening. Nights like this redeem the bleak and grizzly reality of January in the UK for me.
My wine of choice tonight is this delicious 2004 Anciano Gran Reserva Tempranillo, a medium-bodied red wine which hails from the Valdepenas DO in Spain’s Cuidad Real province. It’s flashy vintage-style label was what first attracted me to it, but on closer inspection, there is a lot to be said about it. Most of the wine produced in Ciudad Real is consumed at a relatively young vintage, two-to-three years is the rough average. This bottle, however, has been matured in an oak cask for seven years making it part of a “Gran Reserva” range (AKA “reserve selection”). Seven years is a fair chunk of time for a Tempranillo, so when I stumbled across it at Waitrose the other day I couldn’t resist giving it a try.
Its pomegranate hue is an instant eye-popper; it looks absolutely stunning in the glass. With every swirl, a tint of red clings to the sides of the glass like sap, emitting a sweet, fruity aroma in its wake. Further whiffs reveal a pleasant bouquet of soft red berries, star anise and dark cocoa. It’s got all of the qualities that you’d expect out of a Tempranillo, but I’ll admit that initially, due to its age, I was expecting a bit more variation. Some earthy or mineral undertones would have added an extra punch, but it has still managed to impress me nonetheless. The wine’s smooth and well-balanced consistency is followed up by succulent flavors of red berries, fennel and mellowed oak; the latter being a fine testament to quality time spent in the barrel.
I do love a bit of oak in my reds. For me, they are the epitome of winter drinking. Anciano’s seven years has definitely won some brownie points here. But again, overall, I would have liked to taste a bit more character variation. It has to be said, however, that I highly enjoyed every sip, so even though it might not be the most complex wine for its advertised age, for £5.50 it is a lovely wine that I would definitely recommend. Come to think of it, where it may slightly lack in character it certainly makes up for in versatility. Its milder qualities make it a good choice for pairing with a variety of different foods (I’ll put it to the test alongside my stew later).
I love a good bargain wine and this is another great example of the little gems that you can find on your local high street. It may not be a cult wine or from a boutique vineyard, but Anciano Gran Reserva Tempranillo would be welcomed back on my shelf anytime.
You can currently buy 2004 Anciano Gran Reserva Tempranillo from Waitrose. It’s on sale for the bargain price of £5.50 (originally £8.99)!