I am not the world's greatest expert on Spanish wines, but generally there are three things I don't like about them
1) Lack of vitality in the wines
2) Tempranillo is a boring grape variety
3) The authorities in many regions, including Rioja, do not allow single vineyard wines, as they say they do not have the resources to police it. Obviously, trust is not an option.
Yesterday, I had an opportunity to test my preconceived view against the 2009 Marques de Riscal Rioja Reserva, from one of the most respected wineries in Spain.
There is good intensity in this cherry fruit, but not much else on the palate, other than the vanilla from maturing the wine in American oak. The wine is a bit dull, and not very polished either. The tannins are quite soft, and as there is not much going on, the alcohol comes through on the finish.
Preconceived ideas confirmed! (at least on this occasion)
Later in the year, I will spend a couple of days in the Ribera del Duero region to get more of an insight.