What always astounds me about Banda Azul (an Ernest Hemingway favorite) is the precision with which the flavors of the Tempranillo grape are perfectly set off by the abundant notes of new oak. It's a neat trick, rarely mastered outside of Burgundy or Bordeaux, and it makes Banda Azul something special. You save a ton, but give up almost nothing in terms of polish and sophistication.
From the portfolio of the peripatetic Eric Solomon, who has a gift for finding super-values from all over the globe, the 2011 Hazaña Rioja Tradicion offers a subtly updated and freshened take on the classic Rioja formula. Pair this well-balanced Rioja with tapas, salmon, grilled meats, and poultry.