87
Faustino V 2011 Rioja Reserva 13.5%
This wine really started to shine on the third day after I opened it. I poured a glass on Day One then promptly poured most of it back into the bottle. The juice tasted foursquare and angular. I put the cork back in the bottle and placed it in the wine fridge. On Day Two, the wine seemed similarly “blah”. On Day Three, this Tempranillo exploded with flavor! I hadn’t tasted Faustino in a while, and I am very glad I didn’t give up on this Rioja Reserve 2011. I would have scored it 85 on Day One and by the time I tasted it for the final time, I was up to 88. Few wines can evolve to benefit like that, and old school Rioja is one of them. The tricky part is that we are rarely in circumstances where we can wait for wine to evolve that way. So, I ended up at 87 points.

Once fully opened, this wine is a mosh pit of smashed mulberries and smoky spices wrapped up in a velvet coat of smooth, even sumptuous tannins with a fine point of chewiness on the medium finish. While the structure of the wine says “Drink up!”, the algorithm of complex flavors suggests this wine will hold supremely well for a very long time. It’s a sipper on its own as well as a wine for nicely spiced red meat dishes.
Drink: 2018-21

87
Hacienda José Luis 2011 Rioja Reserva 14%
This is classically styled, old school Rioja with oodles of mulberry fruit and strawberry jam laced with lit fireplace hearth and milk chocolate tones of toasty, new French and American oak. The wine’s tannins are so sculpted and svelte that it’s the pleasantly bitter and angular (think amaro-like) acidity that brings this wine into focus. It offers a moderate finish with fallen autumn leaves and musk. This is in its drinking prime.

Jose Luis Heras Cordon owns an excavating company that clears land and plants vineyards throughout Spain. So, it isn’t surprising he decided to start his own winery. It is now into its third decade with 125 hectares organically farmed, and Alexandrea Schmedes of the much-lauded Bodegas Ramirez de Ganuza is the wine maker.
Drink: 2018-20