La Rioja Alta Rioja Gran Reserva ‘904' 2011

SKU
LRAG201110 UCAU
“Quite simply, these are some of the finest Riojas that can grace your cellar: complex, refined, classic but without compromising fruit intensity and to reiterate: wines that speak about where they come from.” Neal Martin, The Wine Advocate 90% Tempranillo and 10% Graciano from vines over 60 years old in vineyards in Briñas, Labastida and Villalba. Highly complex nose with a creamy bouquet and spicy notes of cinnamon, vanilla, powder chocolate, snuff box and a background of undergrowth that lead to stewed red fruit and cherry liqueur. Tasty in the mouth, with good texture, balanced and fresh on the palate with elegant, tamed tannins. Outstandingly long, persistent and refined finish with notes of sweet tobacco, cedar and spice, cherry liqueur and coffee caramel aftertaste. A classic Rioja which stands out for its freshness and great bottle ageing potential.
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  • 98 Points, James Suckling
  • 97 Points, Tim Atkin MW
  • 96+, Wine Advocate
  • 1 or more bottles
    $165.00
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  • 96

Details

Tasting Profile

  • Light (Light)
    Full (Full)
  • Low Tannin (Low Tannin)
    Tannic (Tannic)
  • Sweet (Sweet)
    Dry (Dry)
  • Low Acidity (Low Acidity)
    High Acidity (High Acidity)
  • Aroma
    • Cherry
    • Herbal
    • Plum
  • Palate
    • Cedar
    • Cherry
    • Fig

Food Pairings

  • Game
  • Pork
  • Red Meat

Critic Scores & reviews

  • James Suckling

    96
    "“Lovely dried red fruit, such as plums with just a hint of prunes. Cedar, walnut and leather undertones. Full- bodied with lots of fruit, considering its age, as well as hints of smoke, tobacco, bark and black tea. Some balsamic at the finish. Traditionally styled with lovely results. Drink or hold.”"

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Locations

Spain

Spain is definitely one of the new-world players to keep an eye on. It is the land of old-vines, american oak and sherry! The main varieties grown in Spain are Tempranillo and Garnacha (Grenache) in the reds, and Airén, Viura/Macabeo, Verdejo and Albarino for the whites. Lesser grown whites include Palomino. Other reds successfully cultivated include Carignan, Mourvedre and Mencia.

Although Spain can be quite a warm country, the vast majority of vineyards are 600m or so above sea level, so the cooler nights allow the grapes to develop full colour and acidity.

Rioja is undoubtedly the long-standing king of all the Spanish wine regions, where Tempranillo and Garnacha are commonly blended. However more recently many more regions have come to the forefront of interest. Ribera Del Duero is producing excellent Tempranillo blends rivalling those coming out of Rioja. Jerez in the South is the home of the fortified wine Sherry.

Spanish wine laws created the Denominación de Origen (DO) system in 1932 and were later revised in 1970. These include:

  • Denominación de Origen Calificada (formerly called DOCa) Priorat calls itself DOQ for Denominació d'Origen Qualificada in Catalan and has a track record of consistent quality and is meant to be a step above DO level.
  • Denominación de Origen (DO)- Used for mainstream-quality wine regions. Nearly two thirds of the total vineyard area in Spain is within the boundaries of a DO region.
  • Vino de Calidad Producido en Región Determinada (VCPRD) - This is somewhat of a stepping stone to DO status.
  • Vinos de la Tierra (VdIT) - A level similar to France's vin de pays system, where the regions are much larger.
  • Vino de Mesa (VdM)- The equivalent of 'table wines' from France or Italy

Rioja

Rioja is located in the south of the Cantabrian Mountains along the Ebro river in the north of Spain. The region also has a river called Rio Oja, which is where the region likely gained its name. There are three main regions in Rioja, with each of them producing quite unique expressions of Rioja wines.

To the west is Rioja Alta, in the higher elevated area. This sub-region is renowned for its old-world wines that are often lighter on the palate due to the higher altitude. The wines coming out of Rioja Alavesa on the other hand are fuller bodies, with higher acid levels than those from Rioja Alta. The third area, Rioja Baja is the warmest and driest of all, and can in summer months can be exposed to very high temperatures drought so irrigation is now permitted in the region.

The reds (tinto) wines of Rioja are generally blends of Tempranillo and Garnacha with lesser amounts of Graciano and Mazuelo. Amongst the white (bianco) varieties, Viura is the most common though normally blended with Malvasia or Garnacha Blanc. Plenty of interesting Rosé wines are produced, most commonly from the Garnacha variety. Note that wineries in Spain are commonly referred to as bodegas.

Rioja Alta

There are three main regions in Rioja, with each of them producing quite unique expressions of Rioja wines. To the west is Rioja Alta, in the higher elevated area. This subregion is renowned for its old-world wines that are often lighter on the palate due to the higher altitude. The wines coming out of Rioja Alavesa on the other hand are fuller bodies, with higher acid levels than those from Rioja Alta. The third area, Rioja Baja is the warmest and driest of all, and can in summer months can be exposed to very high temperatures drought so irrigation is now permitted in the region.

The red (tinto) wines of Rioja are generally blends of Tempranillo and Garnacha with lesser amounts of Graciano and Mazuelo. Amongst the white (bianco) varieties, Viura is the most common though normally blended with Malvasia or Garnacha Blanc. Plenty of interesting Rosé wines are produced, most commonly from the Garnacha variety.

Note that wineries in Spain are commonly referred to as bodegas.

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About the brand La Rioja Alta

With headquarters in the same location since built in 1890, alongside Bodegas Muga in the Barrio del Estación, (the old railway quarter of Haro) - La Rioja Alta is one of the most traditional of the regions’s bodegas.

Initially founded as a consortium of five families which included the Aranas, Ardanzas and the Alberdis (each with their own Reservas named after them, the Bodegas now has an impressive portfolio of vineyards totalling well over 600 hectares, throughout the Rioja Alta region, with 475ha in Rioja Alta, over 60ha in the Alavesa, 62ha in the Baja, 75ha in the Galician denominación of Rías Baixas & 95ha in DO Ribero del Duero.

3 wines are produced at Reserva level. Viña Alberdi is 100% Tempranillo, aged 2 years in, and 2 in bottle. Viña Arana is a blend of 95% Tempranillo with 5% Mazuelo and has 3 years in oak and a further 2 in bottle and Viña Ardanza is the most exceptional and rarely produced wine - made only in 1964, 1973, 2001 and 2005 and carries the additional descriptor 'especial'. Whilst the extended maturation in American oak technically allows both both Arana and Ardanza to be classified as gran reserva, this designation is reserved for the final two, the incredible, top-of-the range '904' and '890.'

Over the years the winery outgrew the original site, so a purpose built winery was constructed in 1996 and stands an impressive stone structure a mile down the road from the original site, which now acts as the corporate headquarters.

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