Summer Sipping

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Ondarre
Ondarre

Looking for an everyday wine to take you through the easy-livin’ summer season? Stock up on Rioja wines from sunny Spain.

Rioja, a region along the Ebro River in northern Spain, produces an eclectic assortment of food-friendly wines, ranging from elegant reservas and classic crianzas to fruitful young vintages. Most Riojas are a blend of varietals; their distinctive classifications define the wines by the length of time spent aging in oak barrels. Those simply labeled Rioja spend less than a year aging in oak; crianza ages for at least two years, with at least one year in oak. Rioja reserva ages for at least three years (at least one year in oak), and the gran reserva wines spend at least two years in oak barrels and three years in bottle aging before release.

It is the yearling Riojas that match up to summer sipping so well. Still fruity, with just a hint of oak, the berry flavors dance on the tongue, tempering mild tannins with vanilla oak notes. This is a wine you can serve anytime this summer, whether menu plans boast filet mignon and prime rib, or backyard burgers, pulled pork and wood-fired pizza. Young Rioja plays nice with all dishes.

Ondarre Creator is one of those nice-playing Riojas easily available in Columbia. The Tempranillo-dominant blend also contains Garnacha and a mix of Mazuelo and Graciano. The jammy black cherry and blackberry flavor has a touch of black pepper spice for kicks. This is a smooth sip, with just enough tannin for heft and a satisfying finish. Serve it with anything you like, all summer long. When the summer doldrums set in, use it to whip up a pitcher of sangria.

Wine Spectator was so impressed with Ondarre Creator, it gave the wine a 90-point rating. Pick up a few bottles at your favorite local wine shop and put it to your own summer-sipping taste test.

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