My Favorite Budget Bargain Wine of 2020 (So Far) — This $16 Tempranillo is a Happy Steal

Traveling to Rioja, a Magical Land of Reds

BY // 03.04.20

The cost of a bottle of wine is one of the things that most people keep in mind when considering purchases. It’s important to know what a certain bottle should cost, whether or not the asking price is a fair one, and the more you know about vintages and producers, the more you taste, the better buyer you’ll become. You’ll know when a wine is a bargain, and your collection (and enjoyment) will be the better for it.

If you like bargains, I have one for you. It’s my favorite Tempranillo of 2020 (so far), and it boasts a suggested retail price of $15.99. It’s the 2016 Viña Pomal Crianza, a bottle that you now should purchase by the case.

This wine, a crianza from Viña Pomal, is drinking above it price point.

Tempranillo can produce some great wines, some of which sell for hundreds of dollars (and more) a bottle. It’s the main red grape in Rioja, and the fourth-most planted grape in the world. Fresh, vibrant, full of fruit when young, Tempranillo can age into a thing of beauty. The Viña Pomal Crianza is full of vibrancy, and if you open a bottle today you will be more than satisfied. Put a few away for two or three years, and the tobacco and leather notes will grow more profound and elegant.

For those who are unfamiliar with the term “crianza,” it is one of the classifications of the Consejo Regulador DOCa Rioja, the agency that oversees the region’s wines and helps ensure their quality. Crianzas must spend at least one year in casks and several months in the bottle, and are usually priced in the sub-$15 range, which makes them especially suitable for daily entertaining and enjoyment.

We opened our crianza and let it breathe for five minutes, and though we were pairing it with grilled lamb chops (cooked simply with garlic, olive oil and parsley), we tasted it well before the chops were ready. It was lively, with restrained tannins. This is a highly enjoyable bottle of wine that would appeal to most palates. Cherry and violet notes dominate — and they married well with the lamb.

Note: I have spent time in Rioja on several occasions, and it is a worthy destination if you love food and wine. The people are friendly, and the drive from Barcelona is pleasant. There are a number of wineries in the area you’ll want to visit, including Bodegas Muga and R. López de Heredia Viña Tondonia, so add this Spanish escape to your list.

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