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Back Where We Began – Rioja and the Wines of Carlos Serres – the Final Spanish Series Article

Serres LogoWe started drinking wines from Rioja decades ago, and it was a favorite area early in our wine journey.  We didn’t know what Crianza really meant back then, but we drank a lot of it.   So when we think of Spanish wine that is the specific area which always comes to mind first.  There are so many other choices worthy of consideration from Spain, and they grow in number every year.  We’ve touched on many of them in our series on Spanish wine and wine producing areas, and you can go back to the beginning by clicking here.  That beginning was in Rioja, and to give this series symmetry we’re going to end it in the same place.  We’ll also end it with one of our favorite things in the wine world, some pretty amazing values.

Carlos Serres was one of the pioneers of Spanish wine in Rioja.  He established one of the first wineries in Haro, in the region of Rioja Alta, way back in 1896.  The reason for choosing Haro was that Carlos believed it was a perfect place to craft wines in the Bordeaux style.  Cold, long winters, mild summers with temperature contrasts, high rainfall figures and a diversity of soils make the Haro terroir truly exceptional for Rioja wine. He felt they were perfect conditions in which to apply traditional aging in Bordeaux barrels.

Carlos Serres Vineyards

Carlos was also the first to promote and distribute the wines of Rioja far and wide, making exports a prime part of his business model. In fact the winery began as a registered export agent, and this activity led to the establishment of the Rioja Wine Exporters Syndicate in 1907, precursor of today’s Rioja Designation of Origin (D.O.) Control Board.

Today the winery continues to make wines in the traditional character of Rioja, a character defined in many ways by Carlos Serres all vineyards-map-carlos-serresthose years ago.  Modern vinicultural techniques have improved the quality of the grapes, and the Bordeaux inspired techniques make the most out of nature’s raw material.  You will find classic Rioja blends, and the plots within the old Finca El Estanque vineyard contain the grapes this wine has been known for.  Tempranillo dominates, with Graciano, Mazuelo, Maturana Tinta and Viura making up the rest.  The vineyards cover some 60 hectares in south-eastern Haro.  It has mostly chalky-clay soils with a high gravel content, perfect for the grapes now used to make their Reservas, Gran Reservas and limited production Onomástica.

You can learn much more about Carlos Serres wines on their website at http://www.carlosserres.com/en/.

We have three wines from Carlos Serres to talk about, two reds and one white.  The common denominator between these wines is value.  You will see why when we share the suggested retail prices of the wines.  Here they are – first the white:

IMG_1205Wine:  2016 Carlos Serre Rioja Blanco   

Winery Location:   Haro, Rioja Alta, Spain

Tasted By:  Neil & Cheri                    Date:  September 2017

Tasting Notes:  a blend of Viura and Tempranillo Blanco, this wine is a pale yellow in color, has bright fruit on the nose, with apple and pear, as well as some tropical notes.  On the palate, pear was the dominant fruit, and the wine has some floral notes, good structure and a long, clean finish.  It really is a quality white wine, and a great alternative to your everyday Chardonnay or Pinot Grigio.  This will hold up to a wide range of foods, with shellfish being the obvious choice, but cheese, roasted chicken and salmon work as well. 

Price Point –    $10 – which is crazy for a wine of this quality.  Try it, try it – you will see!

Would We Buy It?    all day long,  This is a great house white, priced far below its value, and a no-brainer buy.

Now the reds:

IMG_1204Wine:    2015 Carlos Serres Rioja Old Vines

Winery Location:   Haro, Rioja Alta,  Spain  

Tasted By:  Neil & Cheri                          Date:    September 2017 

Tasting Notes:  this is a medium hued purple red  in color and quite brilliant.  The nose is a mix of red and black fruit.  Cherry pops out, along with oak and a touch of something savory.  It is medium bodied, has a nice acid balance and medium tannins.  On the palate you get the cherry, but also raspberry, a little smoke and tobacco.  Good length to the finish as well.  All in all this is a very enjoyable bottle of red wine.

Price Point –    $10 – and another crazy price point for a wine of this quality.

Would We Buy It?    Absolutely.  This is a great value.

Lastly:

IMG_1206Wine:   2013 Carlos Serres Rioja Crianza 

Winery Location:   Haro,  Rioja Alta,  Spain

Tasted By:  Neil & Cheri                  Date:     September 2017 

Tasting Notes:  This wine is a deep purple red in color, clear and brilliant.  A rich nose brings a classic Rioja range of aromas, with red fruit, oak and tobacco.  It is full bodied, has brisk tannins and a nice balance.  The palate shows blackberry, cherry, tobacco and orange peel.  There is a hint of smoke as well.  The wine is very long, and stays rich throughout.  While it is listed at 13% alcohol it seems like a bigger wine, with a fuller expression while still remaining fresh.  We really like this.

Price Point –    $12 – what do you say to that?  You should be asking where you can buy a case.

Would We Buy It?    this is a fabulous wine for the money.  Buy it by the case.

This series has been a fantastic opportunity to look at both the old and new in Spanish wines, as well as the range in international and indigenous grapes that are part of the Spanish wine industry today.  We found some new producers and some amazingly good juice.  Above all we found tremendous value, across the board.  If anything the values have increased over the years as the quality of the wines improves.

The wines here, from Carlos Serres, are a great way to end with a definitive value statement.  These are some of the best wines we have ever had in the $10-$12 range.  The Crianza is crazy good for the money.  Their Reserva and Gran Reserva wines retail at $15 and $25 respectively, and we suspect they bring the same incredible value as the wines reviewed above.  We’ll be looking to get our hands on them, and will report back when we do.

Do yourself a favor, try some Spanish wine.  Do so with some persistence, and try some from various regions and producers.  There is so much to enjoy here.

You can go to the beginning of the Spanish Series by clicking here.

The wine of Carlos Serres are imported by our friends at Wineseller’s Ltd., and you can see more from their broad portfolio on their website at http://www.winesellersltd.com/.

We’ll be moving on to review and write about other regions around the world, but we will continue to drink Spanish wines.  They should be in everyone’s cellar, or just on your kitchen counter.

A votre santé!

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