This is a tale of three wines, in three different styles, a blend of three different sub-regions, all from the same producer.
Rioja, the predominate wine of Spain, is located in the northeast corner just barely touching the Basque country and named after the river, rio, Oja, a tributary of the Ebro. The river divides Rioja into three sub-regions: Rioja Alta, Rioja Alavesa & Rioja Baja. These regions have been separated to highlight their individual qualities, each having a different temperature & soil combination from the other.
All wines from Rioja must be labeled according to the amount of time they have been aged; Crianza must spend a year in bottle before release, Reserva must spend two years and Gran Reserva can be made from only the best grapes, in the best vintages and must spend at least three years in bottle so that the wines are a minimum of five years old before release.
Campo Viejo is a modern winery located in the heart of La Rioja and guided under the expert hand of female winemaker, Elena Adell San Pedro (sadly women winemakers are still rare). The Campo Viejo approach is to use modern technologies to highlight the delicious fruit of Rioja; this modernization is a growing trend in Rioja.
The current releases are: 2004 Crianza, 2001 Reserva and 1999 Gran Reserva. As would be expected, the wines got better as they got older. The Crianza was bright and pure with clean fruit but not as complex as the Reserva or Gran Reserva. My favorite was the Gran Reserva; it was rich, layered and complex with beautiful dusty tannins, some spice and lots of cherry/berry fruit. This said all three were absolutely delicious and excellent bargains.