“Absolutely the Best Wine I Have Ever Had”

After an unpleasant cleaning at my periodontist in a less than familiar part of Toronto I saw a TD Canada Trust in a strip mall and pulled in to pay my credit card bill. In the distance I see an LCBO so curiosity pulled me in. A decent Vintages section. So, I see a Baron De Ley Gran Reserva Rioja from Spain with a hand-written note from a Vintages consultant saying “Absolutely the Best Wine I Have Ever Had”.

Seeing that could I not resist picking up a bottle?

Gran Reservas must be aged for 5 years two of which must be in oak barrels and the remaining three must be in bottles. This is top tier Rioja.

It is black cherry in colour. On the nose seductive vanilla, mocha, ripe black cherry, roasted Spanish almonds and blackberry syrup. On the palate smooth and full of cassis, blackberry and sour cherry. However, it rather fails to convert from the initial seductiveness of the palate. The tannins are well integrated and the finish short.

I suspect anyone proclaiming this is the “best wine I have ever had”. I have been reviewing wines for a decade and I can’t tell you what the best wine I have had is. It rather depends where I am in the world, what I am eating and the stemware I am drinking from.

I have always advised you be wary of wine writers ….including me. Let your nose and palate make your own decisions. I am here to try to make your life a bit easier. Don’t be suckered in by a tremendous nose like the one this wine has. Does it translate into taste?

As the Trumpster said last night the fake press is “the enemy of the PEOPLE”.  Are we in Nuremberg in 1939 listening to Adolph? He loved rallies like the Trumpster! (Baron de Ley Gran Reserva Rioja 2011, D.O.C., Baron de Ley, Mendavia, Spain, $29.75, 14%, 750 mL, LCBO # 00642496, Square Media Group Rating 91/100).

Put another way do not necessarily believe what you hear from an LCBO Vintages consultant or from me.

This will not improve with age. Drink before the end of 2019. Good with mussels in a red wine and sausage sauce. Garlic, onions, red wine, parsley, sage, paprika……

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About the Author

Robert Stephen (CSW)
Robert K Stephen writes about food and drink, travel, and lifestyle issues. He is one of the few non-national writers to be certified as a wine specialist by the Society of Wine Educators, in Washington, DC. Robert was the first associate member of the Wine Writers’ Circle of Canada. He also holds a Mindfulness Certification from the University of Leiden. Be it Spanish cured meat, dried fruit, BBQ, or recycled bamboo place mats, Robert endeavours to escape the mundane, which is why he loves The Square. His motto is, "Have Story, Will Write." Email Robert Stephen

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