tempranillo, is food friendly, classy and a tremendous value. One can buy Gran Reserva, the best made of the three levels of Rioja, for pennies on the dollar compared to similar quality wines from the world's other top wine regions. And $10 Riojas are almost always equally as excellent values.
The Beronia ($28, purchased) is a more modern style of Rijoa, which means it's bit higher in alcohol and has fresher, more forward fruit. It's still the classic cherry that Rioja is known for, but a lot more noticeable. And modern though it may be, it still smells like a Rioja (I'd say funky; the correct winespeak is probably spicy or earthy) and it posseses the lively acidity and well-integrated oak that these wines are famous for.
One of the favorite moments in my wine career was a lunch in a small town in Rioja, with a bottle of Crianza (the basic level of Rioja), roast baby lamb and canned white asparagus. I can still taste the way the lamb and the wine went together, and it makes me smile whenever I think about it.
And a tip o' the Curmudgeon's fedora to Laurie Daniel, who judged with me at last week's Dallas Morning News-TexSom competition, and donated this bottle to the cause because she didn't want to cram it in her luggage. Much appreciated, Laurie.