Easter drinking (part 2): Rioja all the way



In search of some inspiring wines to drink over the coming long weekend, we asked a few staffers what they planned to enjoy. Observant readers will notice a trend emerging…

Simon Field MW, buyer
2005 Vina Arana Reserva La Rioja Alta, £19.75 per bottle
Arana is perhaps less known than its Rioja Alta siblings, Alberdi and Ardanza, but it is, or so they tell us, the one they like best at the winery. One taste and we can see why; an outstanding blend from a superlative vintage, the 2005 shows off all the versatility of fine Tempranillo, its seductive ripe strawberry fruit and balsamic overtures heralding mid-palate richness which will be a perfect match for Easter’s roast. Peerless and timeless, this is archetypical classic Rioja.

Fergus Stewart, Fine Wine
1998 Gran Reserva 890, La Rioja Alta, £103 per bottle
An Easter Sunday lunch cries out for lamb, which always makes me turn to Rioja, such is the affinity that this pair have. La Rioja Alta, situated in the heart of Haro, has been producing benchmark Rioja for over a century. The Gran Reserva 890, named in honour of the founding of the company (1890), is sourced from the best fruit in top vintages, before ageing for six years in American oak. A decadent treat to banish the winter blues and welcome in spring, the 1998 Gran Reserva 890 is brimming with red berries, vanilla and a touch of tobacco. Fined boned with beautiful tannins, this would best be decanted an hour in advance.

Sara Guiducci, Fine Wine
1998 Gran Reserva 890, La Rioja Alta, as above
With MW exams looming this spring, an inquiry from a colleague about what I was drinking for Easter reminded me to get organised. We keep our celebrations very traditional; roast lamb will be on the menu and therefore Rioja is the natural choice. This year I have chosen a bottle of 1998 Gran Reserva 890, La Rioja Alta. It is a little expensive, but I feel like indulging the family. We will start with Champagne and we will compare Cedric Bouchard’s Val Vilaine Inflorescence with Pierre Peters, Cuvée de Réserve. I am a huge fan of our small grower’s Champagne and it will be fun to look at the differences between their styles. There will also be plenty of Pickering Port in the house as port is one of few good food matches with chocolate.