Posted 04th February 2013        

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The Jugged Hare is a great gastro pub that sits right on the edge of the City, halfway between The Barbican and Moorgate; it’s an easy place to get after a hard day’s work. The pub is part of the ETM Group of gastro pubs and although they are a pub, they have a dedicated wine section complete with wine quizzes, tastings, pairing sessions and monthly wine dinners.

I went to the Game and Rioja dinner,  late November – the pub taking advantage of the season to show off not only their chef’s creativity but also the wine-matching abilities of their wine-buyer. The wines on show that night were Riojas, which do pair very well with the heavier, rich flavours of game.

I was most impressed by the 1994 Bodegas Urbina Gran Reserva that was served with, not game, but a salted caramel tart! I know it probably would have gone well with a hunk of venison or a breast of grouse but paired with the dessert, it was a tasty surprise.

The Gran Reserva comes from the best grapes of the Estate and comprises 90% Tempranillo, 5% Graciano and 5%  Mazuelo. It spends 24 months in oak and 48 months in the bottle before it’s released to the public but even then, it needs time to show off its full maturity.

The nose of this wine was a complex blend of spices, leather and blackberry jam. Despite its age, it still had a fresh nose with a perfumed floral nose, elegant and subtle on the palate.  The flavours were well integrated, balanced acidity with a fruity finish.  Although the wine is almost 20 years old, it’s still fresh and sprite. The winemakers say it’s best to drink between 2010 – 2025 and I’d be inclined to agree with them.

It was a surprise to have it with a dessert but the wine was able to cope with the salt and sweet of the dark chocolate and salt caramel tart. I would however, be happy to have this with a juicy hunk of venison any day.

The best bit is that it’s very affordable, only £14.99 at Majestic Wine. Grab one for these cold winter nights.

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Meet the Author:
Denise Medrano
I'm an American ex-pat who is fascinated by wine. Previous to my arrival in London, I had done a sommelier course in Buenos Aires, Argentina so I knew I wanted to be in the wine trade but where to start? I started where so many people in the UK wine trade start, Oddbins. I was fortunate in that Oddbins back then had a great wine education partnership with the Wine and Spirit Educational Trust and I was able take the WSET courses. I currently have the WSET Advanced Certificate as well as holding a UK personal alcohol license. Another advantage to working at Oddbins was that I had access to all the wine trade shows. Imagine, being able to go and try as many wines as you could in one day! Whew! I have to admit, I didn't do much spitting back then and the next day, I was wishing I had at least taken better notes. I started looking around on the web for blogs that covered the London wine scene and found there were none. Well, none that appealed to me. None that were a mix of trade and consumer views and opinions. And none that really talked about what a great centre of wine this fabulous city of London is. So I rolled up my sleeves, bought a domain name and the rest, as they say, is The Winesleuth history. The Winesleuth Website - Follow The Winesleuth on Twitter