Rioja Reserva 2010 Cepa Alegro

Taste the Difference Rioja Reserva 2010 Cepa Alegro, Spain, 13.5%

(£7, Sainsbury’s

We’re big fans of Ben Tish in this household and his Saturday Kitchen dish this weekend made his stock rise even further. I mean, who couldn’t love roasted partridge with caramelised chicory, orange, honey and creamy polenta?

We lined up a fair few bottles with this one, as is our wont, because we weren’t sure which way those key ingredients of the chicory and orange were going to send us. In the end, the theory held out because Rioja, with its orange rind aromas and creamy textures, was our first instinct.

Fuller flavoured whites, like a nice Greco di Tufo, did work, accentuating the orange and chicory in particular. But the reds were just more satisfying. The important point was not to choose anything too full bodied or drying, because it then clashed with the rich glaze (elegant styles from Chianti, Ribera del Duero and New World Pinot did do a decent job, though). This Rioja is actually quite supple and rich fruited, meaning it coped well with the sweeter elements of the dish, while its leathery qualities tied in well with the savoury intensity. It was a seamless pairing in the end.

Ben himself was certainly a fan, saying: ‘It’s a banging match again: really, really good.’ (6.5/10, Peter, Nov 2016)