Go to the wine section of any reasonably sized supermarket, find the part marked ‘Spain’, and you’ll see a bottle of this wine sitting there. Campo Viejo Rioja it says in big red letters on a bright yellow label which evokes images of adventure, armada and sun. There’s something undeniably romantic about it: a sense of passion and freedom. Perfect for accompanying glistening dark red spicy meats, charred squid seared on the grill, and revolutionary talk under a slowly ebbing orange orb.
I can’t be the only one labouring under the spell of these idealised associations: Rioja is probably Spain’s most famous wine export. A combination of Tempranillo, Garnacha and Mazuelo grapes, it is beloved by many. My girlfriend’s father, when asked what he wants for his birthday, seldom answers anything other than an exclamatory ‘Ree-oh-ha!’ He loves Campo Viejo’s offerings, as does a friend who sees in its freewheeling yet robust nature the perfect accompaniment to an evening of good food and liberated conversation. In it they find an easily obtainable and decent quality slice of Spanish sun.
My opinion? Can’t stand the stuff. I don’t know why, but for some reason it actually makes me feel physically sick. Which isn’t a quality I particularly rate highly in a wine.
Yes this is the second bottle I’ve tried, no I wasn’t otherwise ill or hungover. Yes I can’t really stomach coffee either although I love the taste, no I don’t get this with any other wine.
I’m sure its not Campo Viejo’s fault, more this style. Oaked to within an inch of its life and smothered in vanilla, it is velvety, alcoholic and smoky. Something this perfumed and intoxicating must be had with food – if only to prevent its all-pervasive aroma from penetrating your very soul – and I’ll admit it went okay with a risotto covered with whatever that cheap version of Parmesan is called. But after one glass the thought of another made my stomach churn.
Of course, there is the very real possibility that I am a big wuss and there will be people out there who will mock my whimperings as they guzzle a bottle of the stuff while grasping a huge chunk of chorizo in one hand and an Ernest Hemingway book about bullfighting in the other.
But they’re welcome to it.
For the sound of stomach a bottle costs £7.99 at everywine.co.uk