Rioja is Spain’s most famous red – and this classic Crianza example comes from one of our favorite family estates. Two generations of the Chavarri family currently run Bodegas Larchago: father Francisco and daughter Ruth (below). Their talented winemaker Miguel Lopez Nuñez completes this winning triumvirate. Rich limestone soil and higher elevation help Miguel coax deliciously deep flavor from the estate’s ancient, low-yielding Tempranillo; a year in American and French oak barrels impart a toasty coconut note to the succulent red berry flavors.
Tempranillo makes some of Spain’s (and the world’s) greatest reds. From the word temprano (‘early’) it ripens before most other red grapes, especially in warm, sunny climates. Dark and thick-skinned, it’s made to be barrel aged – typically in American oak (for vanilla-rich complexity), though some winemakers prefer more subtly spicy French barrels. Either way – the longer the aging, the more mellow the wine.