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WINE OF THE WEEK: Contino Rioja Reserva 2018, Spain

£22–£26, Tesco, Sainsbury's, Waitrose, Morrison, North & South Wines and other independents

If you haven’t got your red wine for the Christmas feast settled yet, or you need a bottle as a gift, this single-estate Rioja Reserva could be the one.

Either way, it’ll certainly be a treat and it’s one that is conveniently well distributed in supermarkets and independent merchants (and often cheaper in the indies). The vintage may vary, but Contino is one of the most consistent names in Rioja, so I wouldn’t worry.

Even in a difficult vintage like 2018, this is a deeply fruity, mouthfilling Rioja with decided colour, rather than a pale Rioja flavoured principally by its oak and vanilla-scented mellowness.

That doesn’t mean it lacks the quintessential Reserva oak accent. Two years’ ageing in a mix of American and French oak barrels has infused the dark cherry, bilberry and cassis with some chocolaty oak and spice and polished the tannins to perfection. Add a fresh bay-leaf finale and you have an indulgent Rioja for any Christmas table.

It’s an obvious pairing for roast lamb, pork or beef, but Christmas turkey with the full kit of fruity, meaty, spicy and sharp accompaniments wouldn’t be overwhelmed. And it would be perfectly at home with a festive nut-roast packed with pumpkin, mushroom, chestnut, cranberries, spices and herbs.   

Contino Rioja Reserva 2018, Rioja, Spain

£21.99–£26, North & South Wines, Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Waitrose, Morrisons, independent wine merchants


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