This is a different type of mezcal that what you might be used to. Usually, mezcal has a smoky flavor that is imparted when the pina, which is the heart of the agave plants, are roasted in pit ovens dug into the ground. This process has been used to make mezcal for over two hundred years, and it is this roasting that gives mezcal the smoky aroma and taste you associate with it. However, the Zignum Mezcal utilizes a process that is similar to one of the processes used to make tequila. Rather than roast the pina in pit ovens, they are cooked in an autoclave, which is a big clay oven, that doesn’t impart the smoke that roasting in the pit ovens imparts.
This week’s pick is the 2010 Campo Viejo Rioja. This wine is a little unusual as it’s a basic Rioja, which means that the wine spends less than one year aging in oak. You more often see Rioja Crianza, which must be aged at least two years with one in oak, or Rioja Reserva, which must be aged at least three years with one year in oak. The 2010 Compo Viejo Rioja is also unusual as it exemplifies a very modern, almost new world style that is made from 100% Tempranillo, which is the main grape variety in Rioja. The wine is aged for four months in American oak and then ages in the bottle. This results in a wine that is very fruit forward with bright red fruit with cherry dominating and hints of black fruit, vanilla and baking spices.