Rioja is an amazingly well-loved and established category in the UK. What is it about Rioja that makes it so popular?
Speaking generally, Rioja offers great value for money at all quality levels. There is a diverse range of styles on offer, from very traditional to modern, appealing to a wide audience with a range of tastes. And it has a very attractive profile – generous, ripe fruit and a natural acidity with supple and silky tannins, which means that it’s incredibly food friendly.
What do you look for in the Rioja winery which creates your own-label wine?
Firstly, I was looking for a partner who makes truly exceptional wines with great personality and sense of place, who was willing to collaborate with Booths and our brand. It was important to find a partner with a rigorous approach to quality and with expertise and heritage in winemaking in the region, so that we could tell this story to our customers and share the beauty of Rioja with them.
How did you decide on the final blend of this wine – what profile are you looking for?
I was looking for something elegant and traditional but with freshness and vibrancy – a wine that is a joy to drink and can be shared with great food and in great company. It was important that the wine was harmonious and had balance between the beautiful pure fruit, careful use of oak and developing complexity of flavours. Given that our customers are buying from us for immediate consumption, the style of wine needed to be ready for drinking now. The beauty of Booths Gran Norte Rioja Reserva 2015 is that it will undoubtedly age superbly over time too.
^ Riojas slowly mellowing in the barrel at Booths' partner La Rioja Alta S.A.
What’s the best food-pairing for this wine?
I love to drink this with roast lamb and I think it would be a great partner to most lamb dishes, even those with a little spice such as a tagine. It also pairs wonderfully with aged, hard cheeses and classic tapas dishes such as meatballs, chorizo or more robust game such as woodpigeon. In essence, it's incredibly versatile.