A Rioja at the peak of its powers

2011 Miguel Merino Rioja

2011 Miguel Merino Rioja Reserva Vitola, Spain £27.95, DavyWine.co.uk

With 24 Davy’s wine bars and five El Vino wine and tapas bars in London, James Davy is a very important man in terms of keeping the capital’s wine aficionados well lubricated. Most of the wines that Davy sells are exclusives and, as they are also available to purchase by private clients, I thought I would highlight one of the stellar wines in his list for you.

Back in 1994, Miguel Merino restored a farmhouse and built a winery and barrel cellar in Briones in the heart of Rioja. His style has always been modern, fruit-driven, lusty and memorable. Vitola is a reserva level wine and it comes from the highly successful 2011 vintage.

What I like most about it, aside from the flavour, is the fact that it is now seven years old and very close to reaching its peak of drinking. This is an important point because, all too often, great Spanish tempranillo seems to be too youthful and in need of more time to soften and develop. It is annoying, pulling odd bottles from your cellar only to have to send them back again for a few more years’ slumber!

Vitola is fresh, intense, long and very well-balanced. There is an extra level of plushness and sexiness here which suits with strident oak and decadent fruit intensity. Of course, it will hold for a further five years with ease, but I urge you to buy and drink this wine soon, while it is at the peak of its powers.

Matthew Jukes is a winner of the International Wine & Spirit Competition’s Communicator of the Year (MatthewJukes.com).