Great value! A 90 point (excellent rating) wine for $9.99. Deep, ruby red, smells of ripe plum with slight hints of vanilla and dried herb. The importer, Bottle Green Ltd., calls it "confident." Whatever that means... It is very smooth and mellow. Nothing shocking to the palate here. Light tasting at first, but with a fuller body toward the middle and an easy finish.
This Rioja is made from Tempranillo grapes, native to Spain, but grown in many places now, including the US. The name refers to the Spanish "temprano," meaning early. The grapes are harvested several weeks earlier than most. It is a Crianza, as opposed to a Reserva. Crianza is a classification that means it was aged in oak for a minimum of 1 year. This particular wine was aged in "new oak" then bottle-aged for an additional year. I don't taste any oak at all. Maybe on account of the oak being "new?" I don't know. I didn't research it that far. Josh tells me the vanilla I'm smelling might be a bit of oakiness... So, that's up for debate. Reason enough for a second glass, I'd say. (Btw, a Reserva must be aged for a total of 3 years, with at least one of those years in oak.)
I'm not sure this would stand up to a meat-heavy meal. Maybe something mild like lamb. It is certainly good sipping with Manchego cheese, while you laze around on a Saturday afternoon and try to decide what to cook for dinner. I will buy it again.