I lived in Logrono for 6 months a couple of years back and man, that place is magical and still feels like home to me. Great reccos on the modern wineries. I also think Arizcuren, Exopto, Billhar, Vinhos en Voz Baja, and Alonso Pedrajo are making incredible wines. Too few people realise how exciting the wine is becoming in Rioja.

Great guide!

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My wife and I are going to Spain in May, so I'll make a list of your restaurant recommendations. Thanks! As to the wine, I'll be looking for the "old school," big, powerful Gran Reservas that I love. They compete with the best reds anywhere in the world. Overall, I find them more reliable than Brunello, Aussie Shiraz and Napa Cab. Taking price into account, Rioja is astounding.

Lighter, more "modern" style wines are a dime a dozen and often overpriced, although I'm willing to try the ones in Rioja. My suspicion is that wineries all over the world are promoting lighter, subtler wines mostly because they are cheaper and easier to produce but can be priced just as high as the wines requiring more time in oak and more time in the bottle before release.

I'm hardly an expert, but my nose and taste buds tell me that a good winemaker—given the right terroir and the right grapes—will use oak (in some form) to bring out the varietal character and complexity in the grapes. The excellent Spanish Gran Reservas I've had seem remarkably deep and complex rather than too oaky.

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