Marqués de Vitoria Rioja Gran Reserva 1996
A fairly mature looking little biddy, this garnet-hued wine mellowed to brick red towards the rim and sat sitting in the glass like a sultry offering from heaven. On the nose, the predominant aromas were of graphite and pencil shavings, softened by notes of coffee, raisin, plum and raspberry. A smokiness helped to lend complexity. The structure of the 1996 was a pleasant surprise, with excellent tannins, a long, slightly bitter finish. Nibs cherry licorice (which I am partial to) was present on the palate and tempered the oak spice. Well-balanced, fairly smooth across the fore- and mid-palate and light-to-medium bodied, this was a Tempranillo made for meat or strong cheeses.