It’s Rioja Week in NYC, and that means we’re pairing classic Spanish producers from the heralded region with some of our top dishes for lunch and dinner.
Known for lengthy aging and earthy flavors, Rioja’s red wines, produced from blends of Tempranillo, Garnacha, Graciano, Mazuelo, and Maturana Tinta, crave a food accompaniment. Winemaking in the region dates back to the Middle Ages, giving the wine culture generations to match the culinary development, especially with the characteristic soils of the area. Most suitable for a quality viticulture, the soils balance slightly alkaline sand, silt and clay structures, along with varying microclimates that give wines unique traits. Further, the strict standards to put Rioja on the bottle guarantees its quality, while still leaving breathing room for experimentation by individual winemakers.
The standout La Rioja Alta “Vina Ardanza” 2004 took the 22nd spot on the Wine Spectator Top 100 List in 2013, a traditional style that blends cedar, tobacco and spice incredibly elegantly with dried cherry and vanilla notes. Likewise, the the “powerful yet harmonious,” 95-point Bodegas Muga Rioja Seleccion Especial Reserva 2009 and the 95-point CVNE Imperial Gran Reserva Rioja 2005 feature smoke and herb notes with a long finish, the Wine Advocate describing the CVNE as “smoked cured meats [and] beeswax.” The traditional style complements the spices and herbs on our menu, and the weight of the wine helps cut through heavier dishes, including the New York strip steak, rack of lamb and foie gras terrine.
These wine differ greatly, though, from the graceful, modern style of the Conde Valdemar “Inspiracion” 2010, with its sleek texture and well-integrated tannins that pair beautifully with the black pepper fettuccine and the smoked duck salad, both lighter on the palate but not in flavor.
Check out our Rioja Week pairings below from sommelier Anna Cabrales.
WINE: Conde Valdemar “Inspiracion” 2010
LUNCH: Smoked Duck Salad
DINNER: Black Pepper Fettuccini
WINE: La Rioja Alta “Vina Ardanza” 2004
LUNCH: Foie Gras Terrine
DINNER: Herbed Gnocchi
WINE: Bodegas Muga Rioja Seleccion Especial Reserva 2009
LUNCH: Sesame Crusted Tuna Salad
DINNER: New York Strip Steak
WINE: CVNE Imperial Gran Reserva Rioja 2005
LUNCH: Pulled Beef Brisket Sandwich
DINNER: Rack of Lamb