Posted by: tomciocco | February 8, 2012


Within the last few weeks,  I posted about my continuing difficulties with uber-oaky Tempranillo-based wines, and my search for some sort of  “middle” regarding Tempranillo from all over Spain – Rioja to be sure, but Toro, Ribera del Duero, and other appellations too.  That search continued this evening, and I’m pleased to report a very nice outcome.. 

So to quickly recapitulate, my ongoing beef (and maybe your’s as well) with many Tempranillo wines is that they are often laden with obscene quantities of oak that can take a decade or more to integrate with and not dominate the character of the fruit and the site, and in many cases, this never actually happens. I’ve also drunk all manner of supposedly less oaky Crianzas, and wines carrying the recently minted “barrica” designation, and still too much wood (new, and American in origin) for this fella…

 The only sure-fire safe alternative is the “joven” (which means “young”) designation, which represents wines that never touch stave one of oak, but rather are always vinified entirely in stainless steel tanks, which are vessels used to make countless fine and complex red and white wines all over the world, but in Spain, all too often the absence of any oak at all means little more than chuggable (and sometimes just insipid) sangria wine. Not so with this one, and a hell of a nice surprise too.

To go with this 100% Tempranillo wine,  I finessed and finagled a bread tapa out of some leftover chicken, Guindilla peppers, avocado, parsley, lemon, etc., and then a mostly improvised, and somewhat simplified baked cocido of chickpeas, potatoes, chorizo, cabbage, leeks, chicken stock, tomato, hard boiled eggs, etc. for the main course, with some fluffy Iberian-style bread to sop up the juices…New, artsier photo sensibility? No, just a different, sketchier camera…








Bodegas Riojanas Rioja Joven “Canchales” 2010 

Barely translucent deep magenta/purple color. Fairly complex nose of bark, smoke, blackberry and a touch of blueberry fruit, dry earth, beef boullion, dried oregano, and a slight floral perfuminess. The medium-weight body begins with a supple, smooth balance of fresh, even slightly edgy acidity, and a rustic, direct bank of slightly peppery, stemmy tannins, a core of soft cherry and currant fruit, and hint of cumin. Warm and very dry echoing finish. A very quaffable but not dumbed-down wine for hearty food.


  1. Hi. enjoyed this entry. i’m fond of good rioja joven. i’m looking to make wine in a similar style in california. do you know whether they produce it with carbonic fermentation? whole clusters? stem inclusion? that sort of thing.

    • Thanks. As always, it depends on the producer, but in most cases most Rioja joven are not made with carbonic maceration and do not use whole clusters and are destemmed. The maceration times tend to be a bit shorter as well and of course the “aging” regimen is very short to almost non-existent and always done in stainless steel tanks. Good luck with your (very ambitious) project!


      • Thanks for the reply. One more for you: do you think they press before fermentation is complete? that’s what I would do to keep it super fresh.

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