Wine Review: 2008 Artadi Orobio

21 04 2011

I love it when cheap wine overdelivers!

Sometimes low expectations will get you everywhere.  This was one of those wines that I bought, stuck in my wine fridge and then intentionally avoided drinking for many many months because I didn’t think it would be very good.  Even on nights when I just wanted something cheap and cheerful to wash down dinner, I always managed to make this the 2nd or 3rd option, so it sat there, lonely and neglected, until I finally decided to put it out of its misery tonight.  I don’t know exactly why my outlook was so dim; maybe it’s because there’s something jarring about seeing a wine from Rioja, the most renowned and traditional wine region in Spain, with a screwtop (not that there’s anything wrong with screwtop wines — the screwtop, a.k.a. Stelvin closure, actually does a better job preserving wine than a cork does).  Maybe it’s because the label is so blasé.  Whatever the reason, I was all geared up to have a bad wine experience tonight, but instead the little screwtop that could totally came through for me.

I got the Orobio from The Ferocious Grape a year or so ago for under $20.  Like most red wines from the Rioja region, it’s Tempranillo-based, but unlike many Rioja wines, it’s made in a modern, New World style, with a lot less barrel and bottle aging before being released to market and a lot more up-front fruit flavour.  (Aside:  If you want to do a fun wine experiment, go to your local wine shop and ask for a modern and a traditional red Rioja, then drink them side by side…the shocking difference in flavour between wines made from the same grape in the same area faced with the same weather conditions, due entirely to winemaking style and choices, will astound you.)  This wine’s youth was immediately evident in its colour:  a bright deep violet hue without any hint of lightening near the rim of the glass.  The nose brought waves of sweet dark fruits like blackberry, cassis and especially cherry, but the sweetness made the fruit almost seem candied, such that it smelled almost like Nibs licorice or grenadine (As per my resident nosing expert:  “This is like a Shirley Temple.”  I am extremely fortunate to be married to someone who can detect grenadine on a wine’s nose.)  The fruit parade continued on the palate, where black currants and more cherry mixed with sweet vanilla and spice notes.  The Orobio was not at all a trial to drink like some other recent reds in my life; its medium body, smooth tannins, well-integrated acidity and straightforward but welcoming flavour profile made it a great end-of-work-week companion.

Stelvin Rating: 7.5/10 (Crazy bonus marks for being a screwtop that isn't all black.)

This certainly isn’t the most complex wine in the world, and nothing about it screams Spain —  it drinks more like California than Rioja — but as a spring BBQ sipper, it would rank right up there.  Sometimes a wine meets an occasion, and this one met Thursday night before a long weekend like an old friend.  It sort of makes me want to break out all my other prejudged-to-be-crappy wines in my collection for a morale-boosting session… maybe not this one though.  Happy Easter weekend, everyone!!

87 points

$15 to $20 CDN

 [Wine Jargon Notes: 
New World Old World wines are those that come from Europe; New World wines are those from non-European locations like the US, Australia, South America, etc.]



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