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DEC 97

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Decanter: "Restrained, mineral style with elegant tannins. Youthful and fresh, feminine and complex. Deliciously decadent, with extraordinary vitality in the palate and a long unique, finish. A jewel at this price."

S. Irene Virbila writes in Los Angeles Times: "This is why Rioja is one of the best values in red wine right now. Where else could you find such a distinguished red from the 2001 vintage for less than $35? This isn't something a shrewd wine merchant put away for a few years but the estate's current release. And what a mature beauty it is — aromas of dried cherry and rose petals, flavors of dark berries and tobacco, ripe tannins and a long, inviting finish. A seamless package. It will go well with just about anything, but I'm thinking lamb — a roast or chops. If we were in Rioja, those baby chops would be grilled over vine cuttings and would be just the thing to show off the nuances of this great Rioja." 

An amazing Rioja, a surprising review, and a price that’s under $30... here we have the makings of one of the most exciting offers we have presented this year. Sure, we ‘play the hits’ as well as anyone, promoting hot buys and wines that get big reviews. However, unlike a lot of other wine merchants, we put a lot more effort into developing brands that we happen to like ourselves whether or not they have been favored by the media. Faustino Rioja is one of those brands (particularly their Gran Reserva) that we have developed over the years simply because we happen to like it (gasp). 

Our discovery of their Gran Reserva was from the 1994 vintage a few years ago and we have been fans ever since. Our family is very familiar with the funky, frosted, wire-strapped bottles on our own table. This wine sold pretty well through the years here at Winex with absolutely no help from the press and now a lot of our customers know Faustino as well. We even hosted an ‘Old Rioja’ tasting recently that included a number of library wines from this ‘old school’ Spanish producer as well as the current 2000 release. Both the 1999 and 2000 Faustino I Gran Reservas (vintages where many Riojano producers didn’t even make Gran Reservas) are excellent examples of the breed. We’ve anticipated good things from the upcoming 2001 release given what we have experienced from the vintage so far. An advanced sample was sent specifically for our Rioja affair and it rocked us, so we immediately began securing quantities before something else happened. 

That ‘something else’ was the first significant review we had ever seen on a Faustino Gran Reserva. It was from the respected British publication, Decanter Magazine. The article stemmed from a tasting of Riojas under 20£. A panel of three tasters sampled 87 Riojas that sold for roughly $30-35 and deemed four of them outstanding. At the top of the list was the 2001 Faustino I Rioja Gran Reserva, pulling in a “Decanter average score” of 19.25/20 (or 97/100 points by their interpretation). Pretty big deal for a wine under $30. One of the panel said of the top selections, “If they cost 40£, I’d still be impressed.” We heartily agree, but some of you might ask who these people are. Well, two of them are Masters of Wine and for what it’s worth, they were the ones that gave the two highest scores.

Cutting to the chase, we made a big commitment to this stunning Rioja and are offering it on a pre-arrival basis of six bottles or more. This is a wine to buy in case lots if you are a Rioja fan, or see the wisdom in buying a wine with a 97-point review for under $30 that already has 12 years of age under its proverbial belt. Can your Bordeaux do that?   Decanter average score: 19.25/20pts (97/100pts).  Stock Report Jan 2014   

From Decanter Magazine:

Faustino, Faustino I, Gran Reserva 2001

Decanter average score: 19.25/20pts (97/100pts)

Individual judge’s scores: Pedro Ballesteros MW 20 Ben Henshaw 18.5 Annette Scarfe MW 19

Faustino (founded 1860) with its iconic frosted bottles and portrait labels is one of Rioja’s most easily recognised brands. It’s a family business based in Oyon in Rioja Alavesa, and the largest private holder of vineyards in
Rioja, spread across the region. The style of the RIoja is as classic as the packaging: look for the sweet, vanilla notes of American oak, plenty of bright cherry fruit, and a fine, delicate palate. For those interested in tasting great old RIojas, Faustino is one company that still releases older vintages going as far back as 1970. Among the other wineries it owns is Portia in Ribera del Duero.

Pedro Ballesteros MW: Deliciously decadent, with extraordinary vitality on the palate and a long, unique finish. A jewel at this price.  

Ben Henshaw: Complex nose, quite grippy but fresh and moreish. A touch dry, but amazing fruit. Classy, complex and long.  

Annette Scarfe MW: A more restrained, mineral style with elegant tannins. Youthful, feminine and complex with a long length. A classic Rioja that is still fresh after 12 years, with more to come.

Drink 2013–2030 Alcohol 13.5%


Tempranillo is the grape of Spain’s noblest wines: Ribera del Duero and Rioja. In those areas, Tempranillo produces wines of exceptional balance, palate, and aromatics, including aromas and flavors of red berries, herbs, and leather. Riojas and Ribera wines often, though they’re not especially acidic or tannic, age effortlessly, with great examples capable of lasting decades or more. Tempranillo is finicky in the vineyard, and the Mediterranean climate is well-suited to the grape. There’s Tempranillo in other parts of Spain, and the wine world, but Rioja and Ribera del Duero are no doubt the best places.

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