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Older Vintages

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Hi Everyone,
Thanks in advance for your help. My wife and live in NYC and we sadly cannot usually afford to buy older vintage wines either retail or at restaurants. We are going to be visiting Spain next week though and may have the chance to eat at a restaurant with a wine list known for both older vintages as well as a low mark up. I have some Rioja from around 2000 and I have a Chianti Classico from the late 90's given to us by a wine writer as a wedding present but we do not get the chance to drink anything from before 2000. With 'free rein' over a wine list centered mostly around Spanish and French wines with some Italian thrown in, what would you look for? I can tell you that we generally like wines from the following places:

Rioja, Ribera Del Duero, almost anything from Burgundy, funkier Loire Valley reds, and more recently, we've tasted some great wines from Pomerol (but we know almost nothing generally about the wines of Bordeaux).

We will likely be eating simple, Basque food which might include bacalao, perhaps an egg-based dish, maybe some lamb or oxtail and most definitely some nutty sheep's milk cheese to finish. We want to order a bottle of red.

Thank you.


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  1. Jeremy,
    If you will be in the Basque region, you'll likely see more Riojas on restaurant lists than French bottles...For Riojas, years of note in the 1990's include 1994, 1995, 1998 and 1991. If you see Lopez Heredia Tondonia or Bosconia, C.U.N.E, Murrieta Castel Ygay, Muriel, La Rioja Alta 890 or Ardanza, or Muga, you'll be drinking well. That said, even in uneven years, good makers make good wine--Lopez Heredia's wines especially age well and you'll likely see them in a variety of older vintages. They are always interesting.

    You might browse through PJ Wine's website to see what they have (strong in Spanish) as well as Chambers Street Wines to get a sense of other labels to look for.

    4 Replies
    1. re: penthouse pup

      Hey there,
      Thank you for this. We'll be drinking mostly Spanish wines this trip but this restaurant has an extraordinary International list with bottles from Spain as well as France and a substantial selection from Germany as well. It's far more international than one usually finds in the region. It's essentially a restaurant built around a cellar with many thousands of bottles. We're looking forward to it!

      I have some very good Muga as well as a Lopez Heredia gran reserva here that I'm excited about!

      Thanks again.

        1. re: Robert Lauriston

          Yes we are! We're eating at Etxebarri on the way up and then tapas the rest of the trip. I've been to the region many many times and I'm just so impressed with the quality of even the casual food in that area but we decided to do Rekondo for the wine.
          Thanks again.

          1. re: JeremyEG

            Rekondo's list is amazing. If I were in San Sebastian for more than a couple of days I'd probably make reservations there for two meals.

    2. If you're in San Sebastian / Donostia, go to Rekondo. Insane long list with some great values on older bottles. Reservations essential.

      I had some nice old Rioja at Lanziego:


      I think the Rioja Alta 904 was one I liked a lot.

      Most places, even the less expensive tapas bars, tend to have some old Riojas and the prices are very modest compared with what we pay here.

      More on San Sebastian: