It’s not often I drink a wine that makes me feel like James Bond, but that’s exactly how I felt as I ascended the windy road that leads to the Viña Real winery in the wine region of Rioja, Spain. Like something out of a movie, the winery let its imposing presence be known from the minute it became visible on the horizon, dwarfing all of the other vineyards and wineries that dotted the valley below.
Viña Real makes what is considered by many to be a “modern” Rioja, which can come with both positive and negative connotations, depending on the type of wino you might be talking to, but I didn’t care what style of Rioja they were making, as long as it tasted good.
The winery itself is an imposing site, but even more imposing is the cellar inside, made by boring directly into the side of the mountain using the same machine utilized to construct the Second Avenue Subway in New York City. It was in this setting that we popped a bottle of Viña Real Reserva and I tasted it for the first time.
In the glass the wine poured a beautiful ruby color with aromas of red cherries, vanilla, and leather. There were flavors of dark red fruit, with nice acidity and balanced tannins with a finish that made me yearn for another sip. At that moment, I could have taken on SPECTRE if I wanted to.
When I returned home to New York, I opened another bottle to make sure it wasn’t simply the incredible surroundings that had made the wine taste so good. After the first sip, I still felt a bit like James Bond. Diamonds, and this wine, really are forever.