Its not often that I see samples of imports, but a few weeks ago we sat down to what is probably the best known name in Rioja wine.
Campo Viejo, Spain’s Winery of the Year, (now fully imported by Pernod Ricard) has won its the sixth Winery of the Year award, cementing their place as the “go to” Rioja wine, the region best known for its Tempranillo.
But its been at the cutting edge of wine-making since its inception.
José Ortigüela founded Campo Viejo as a premium Rioja brand in 1959, and soon realised that a new kind of bottle was needed to reflect its bold and elegant style. In 1961 Campo Viejo launched the classic Rioja bottle that has become a symbol of Spanish wine. In 2012 they became the first winery in Spain to become carbon neutral and their winery itself is extremely unusual in that its built nearly entirely underground.
Not far from Rioja’s capital city, Logroño, the winery has been constructed 20 metres beneath the earth’s surface, including barrel rooms and maturation cellars. The underground location provides natural insulation to keep temperatures constant, removing the need for energy hungry cooling and further reducing their carbon footprint.
Beside the main winery is a small batch experimental winery where they study old traditional winemaking, new varieties and new techniques. it was there that they created their Tempranillo Blanco, a blend of Viura and Tempranillo Blanco, that we probably wont see here in Australia but is just about everywhere in the UK.
Pernod are importing three of the Campo Viejo reds and a sparkling Cava, all are interesting drops and have their place depending on what your looking for and what your price point is. The wines need 15mins int eh fridge to show their best, especially in our warm FNQ heat, but I’ve always said that we drink our wines too hot in Australia anyway.
Campo Viejo Tempranillo 2017 – a well made light to middle weight red, that is perfect for mid week drinking. Loaded with cherry boiled lolly type flavours and aromas, it’s fresh and clean on the tongue, with enough tannin grip to make it a match to the lighter mid week meals, or Friday’s pizza/ pulled pork. RRP $22 but about $17 in store 88pts.
Campo Viejo Reserva 2014 – a five year old Tempranillo and Graciano blend that will set you back about $20, but probably needs a little time in the bottle yet to get some real depth about it, as its only a touch better than the straight Temp (above) however its a great alternative to the similar priced Aussie fruit driven reds. Cherry and plum on the nose, touches of vanillin and chocolate with a slight wisp of smoke. The same flavours flow through to the tongue, with savoury finish. Its easy drinking and has lazy Sunday afternoon tapas written all over it. RRP $27 about $20 in store. 89points.
Campo Viejo Gran Reserva 2012 – Tempranillo and Graciano again here, but they have combined to give what I would pour someone when they wanted to see what a higher quality Rioja wine should be like. Its complex and earthy, some leathery notes on the nose, but really driven by some deep dark fruits, touch of smoke and some spice. “roasting pan” notes would be the best descriptor here. medium to full bodied, great long finish with very, very dry but still soft tannins. Will work with a range of foods here, enough happening to even stand up to blue cheeses. RRP $39 about $30 in store. 90/91 points here depending on your personal tastes.
Campo Viejo NV Cava Brut Reserva – fresh and well balanced, loaded with stone fruit, a little too much lemon pith and face puckering green apple, light and subtle toasty notes, finishes short on the palate with no real lingering flavours. However it will match well to Mediterranean styled white protein dishes, marinated calamari for example. RRP $26 about $20 in store. 88 points.