Inky violet. Ripe blackberry and plum aromas verge on confectionary, with vanilla, mace, tar and dark chocolate accents adding an exotic quality. Full and fleshy, with sweet dark berry and cherry flavors deepened by toasty oak and floral pastilles. The oak dominates the superripe fruit today and I wonder if this will ever really come into balance or become more elegant.
Deep violet. Powerful kirsch and plum jam aromas are sweetened by vanilla and mocha, with an exotic rose pastille accent. Lush and creamy, with warm dark berry and cherry preserve flavors gaining ripeness and a light roasted meat character with air. Rich, deep and full through the finish, which features firm, youthful tannins. This shows the vintage but also possesses impressively fresh fruit.
Youthful ruby. Redcurrant and raspberry on the nose, plus hints of dried rose and graphite. Taut and linear, with tangy red berry and bitter cherry flavors and a light cedar quality. Refreshing, elegant and drinking well now. One of the sweetest 2002s I've had from Rioja.
Medium red. Moderately ripe cherry and red berry aromas are complicated by tobacco, mint and musky underbrush. Medium-bodied and a bit loose-knit, with low-key, gentle red fruit and cured meat flavors that are nicely firmed by a dusty mineral tone. Gains sweetness on the finish, picking up vanilla and floral oil notes. Understated and rather elegant Rioja but lacking real oomph; was this really deserving of the fancy Gran Reserva Especial treatment?
Dark red. Alluring aromas of redcurrant, cherry, cigar box, licorice and underbrush, with a light touch of vanilla. A silky midweight with expansive red fruit and musky herb flavors framed and supported by bright acidity and dusty tannins. Finishes suave and sweet, with excellent breadth and persistence. This has the balance to cellar but is utterly delicious now.