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Living Up to a Gran Reserva Label: Bodegas Faustino

As far as I’m concerned, the job of big brands is to produce good, standard, classic wines of their type and place. Although I haven’t tasted their entire portfolio, and I am still doubtful about some wines, Bodegas Faustino seem to do this relatively well. I say ‘doubtful’ and ‘relatively’ because I’m not entirely sure whether one should call their ubiquitous Faustino V Rioja ‘classic’ despite or because of what I think is a decent whack of Brett. But, after all, Brett is named after the British and, as with quite a few good Bordeaux, twist my arm and I’ll say it’s meant to be there.

But lets move on. After a British press trip to visit the Faustino group’s new, multi-million euro winery that is Portia in Ribera del Duero (of which more in the next post), I, being the only tanned and unproblematic journalist (I had a car, the rest were flying back to the UK), was handed three wines by the affable (who, on a press trip, is not affable?) Antonio Ballaster, export director for Grupo Faustino. One was a baby (i.e. young) Portia, the other the aforementioned Faustino, and the last, opened three days ago, a bottle of their Campillo Rioja Gran Reserva 1995.

The exact price of this wine is tough to find, (I’ll try to hunt it out in a Spanish supermarket soon) but it seems the retail price is between €15 to €30+ per bottle. Now, all things being relative (which, I admit, is an argument that is pro just about anything), that is a damned decent price for a bottle that’s 15 years old. The key is whether the wine itself lives up to its Gran Reserva label. And I think it does, with just enough development and body and texture that you should get from Rioja that old. It’s not top-of-the-range stuff – there isn’t the fruit to last more than a few years and there isn’t enough complexity to call it great – but if you want to show people what aged Rioja is, this is the first rung on the ladder.

Bodegas Campillo, Rioja Gran Reserva 1995

Colour does not look 15 years old – still nice and red with only tiny signs of browning/development. There is, though, good development on the nose (leathery, smoky, earthy, with a bit of dark fruit and cherries) and it would sit very well next to a Bordeaux Cru Bourgeois of a similar age. Very nice, elegant palate with good juicy fruit and a nice, fresh length. This is decent, old school, Rioja – not overly complex, but a good guide – which is what Faustino should be doing. Strange it doesn’t say Faustino anywhere on the label though…


Oliver Styles

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