Effortlessly enticing on the nose, the oak is beautifully judged, giving you the sense of a luxurious Rioja. The palate is packed full of deliciously concentrated raspberries with just a hint of smoky spice, forest floor, thyme and chamomile, and with a gentle smoked pepper edge with a feathery soft finish. The fruit is very smooth. It's a really delicious red wine that can be drunk with or without food.
The tradtional great Riojas of the past were made with Garnacha. Plantings were 80% of the land, compared with 20% to other varieties. That's reversed in the last 40 years, with Tempranillo replacing it as it yields more and is easier to grow. But Garnacha is coming back, as producers seek more individuality, and as some realise that a lot of people have wearied of the vanillin-saturated Riojas have have been popular. The common denominators of the better new wines, whether we're talking about a well-priced midweek bottle or a show-stopping single-vineyard number, are higher a focus on altitude sites, better-quality (low-yield, often organic) fruit and less extractive winemaking, together with a preference for French over American oak. Established on organic principles since its foundation in 1998, Vinedos Ruiz Jimenez is a prime example of the above, producing some wonderfully vibrant red and white Riojas in the heart of Rioja Baja in Aldeanueva de Ebro.