This Winesday we have the honor of Publishing a featured article by restauranteur and sommelier Cecily Barber. As our good friend, she has been a great supporter of our little growing blog and when we requested a Winesday editorial she graciously provided.

A little introduction for our readers…

“My love of food and wine began as a young girl.  My parents loved to entertain, and I always helped Mom with the party preparations.  Not surprisingly, when I grew up I owned and operated a boutique bar and restaurant in Washington, DC’s historic U Street corridor, for nearly two decades.  I went on to study wine with the International Sommelier Guild, earning my sommelier degree in 2006.  Since then I’ve conducted numerous seminars, tastings, and wine dinners for both corporate and private clients. This is my first blog post, and I’m thrilled that it’s for my talented and delightful friends Katie and Jake.” -Cecily Barber

Who You Calling Old!

Written by Cecily Barber

A couple of years ago, my 79 year old Mom handed me a big box of old booze from her liquor cabinet when she downsized into a manageable apartment. There were big bottles and miniatures – some open and half drunk, some still sealed – plus several bottles of wine my parents had acquired over the years. Occasionally, I’d open one up out of curiosity. Some were long gone, but a few had surprising life left in them. And so it was with the 1991 Marques de Riscal Rioja Reserva my husband and I enjoyed the other night.

As you can see from the picture, the cork broke, so I carefully decanted it. The color had aged to a deep rusty red, and there was slight bricking along the rim. The aroma was mild, but quite pleasant – like warm leather and figs. On the palette, the tannins were soft, but not flabby – this wine still had legs! The flavors were considerably mingled, but not muddled. The lush juiciness often associated with the grenache grape had evolved to flavors of cooked or dried fruits like raisins and prunes, black figs, and tea, giving this wine some qualities of a ripasso, even though it wasn’t made that way. We drank it with the burgers that we had just grilled, but it could have easily gone with a roast pork or duck.
A little history on the Marques de Riscal. Between 1960 and the late 1980s, the wines were judged to have acquired “an unpleasant musty, mushroomy character.” Previously, these were among the best Riojas produced. As a result, all of the barrels were re-tasted, a tenth immediately destroyed, and the rest ultimately replaced under a new wine program.
Maybe that’s the reason this 1991 held up so well. I can’t say for sure, but I will say this –
“Wines are like all living things, constantly changing and evolving, expressing different characteristics of their personalities along the way. I think this wine was telling me that sometimes age is just a number. I’ll drink to that!” -Cecily Barber

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1991 Marques de Riscal Rioja Reserva
Indicative blend: Tempranillo, Graciano and Mazuelo. Also known as Herederos del Marques de Riscal.
Wine Spectator 85/100
 

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