Let me start by disclosing that the Reserve and Grande Reserve wines were samples sent to me following a press trip to Northern Greece. More about the Rapsani part of that trip can be found here, including vine locations, varieties used etc. The straight Rapsani was bought with my own money in the UK – because on the trip I liked it a lot, and thought it represented good value for money. At the time I paid £10, but I see it is available cheaper now. You can get it from Amazon, Agora and Evington’s. As far as I know, the Reserve and Grande Reserve are not available in the UK, but I would guess their retail prices would be around £16 and £29 respectively.
I was taking the wines to Hawksmoor Manchester to use their Monday BYO offer, and double decanted them two hours or so before arriving, straight from my 12ºC wine fridges. As it turned out, there was hardly any sediment to remove. A few minutes after the decant, I tasted them. It was a hot day, so the wine had probably warmed up a couple of degrees before tasting.
Rapsani, 2012, 13.0%
Medium pale garnet. Intense and very attractive nose. Fresh aromatic spices. Slightly mature red fruit. Medium acid. Supple and fruity. Medium high tannin. Intense aromatically on palate. Soft, rounded and gentle fruitiness, despite the tannin. Excellent length. Drink now, but no hurry *****
Rapsani Reserve, 2011, 13.5%
Medium pale, more ruby than garnet. Aromatic spices on nose. Tight. Blackcurrant with hard edge. Medium acid. High tannin. Intense on palate. Hard, but with icing-sugar-like sweetness. Excellent length. Good now, but would benefit from 5 years or so ****
Rapsani Grande Reserve, 2008, 13.5%
Very similar characteristics to the Reserve, but with even more aromatic intensity. A definite step up in quality. Potential is easier to imagine than with the Reserve, and it is a better drink now ****
As the wines warmed up in the restaurant I enjoyed them less. They all became more soupy, the Reserve wine became obtrusively oaky, and the Grande Reserve even more obtrusively oaky. However, my order of preference remained the same: straight Rapsani, Grande Reserve, Reserve. But that was just me – other people I was with who expressed a preference liked the Reserve best. I hasten to stress that my scores and preferences were for the wines as they showed on the night. The straight Rapsani was great for drinking now, but I did think that the Grande Reserve in particular had good potential.
The practical conclusion for me is that, when I can find more storage space (I have just returned from Germany, Alsace and Champage with more than 8 cases), I should buy more of the straight Rapsani – and drink it slightly chilled.