La Rioja Alta: Defining Great Spanish Wine
©La Rioja Alta

La Rioja Alta: Defining Great Spanish Wine

Historical La Rioja Alta

© Historical La Rioja Alta

The history of La Rioja Alta can be traced back to a single day in history. On July 10, 1890 five prominent families came together and founded the Sociedad Vinicola de La Rioja Alta to be lead under the leadership of Doña Saternina Garcia Cid y Gárate and a French winemaker Monsieur Vigier. Shortly thereafter, in 1904, one of the founders, Don Alfredo Ardanza, proposed merging his personal estate, the Ardanza Winery, into the society portfolio. The move was later honored in 1942 when the Vina Ardanza brand was registered. Today it is one of the few large producers to own significant amounts of land; the company meticulously tends over 400 hecatres (988 acres) of vineyards.

Barrel Cellar

© Barrel Cellar

The blending of tradition and modernity has marked this producer’s philosophy from the beginning. Quality, elegance, innovation and evolution are key. In 1952 the property became the first in the greater Rioja region to install a bottling line. Then in 1996 a brand new winery facility was built. And the in house cooper uses modern technology to carefully craft oak casks from imported American oak. Yet traditions still hold sway. Barrels are racked every six months via candlelight. And the aging of wine adheres to long held Spanish standards.

The Wines of La Rioja Alta

  • Vina Ardanza Reserva 2005
  • Gran Reserva 904 2004
  • Gran Reserva 891 2001
 La Rioja Alta Vina Ardanza Reserva 200594 Points, Wine Advocate.  A blend of 80% Temperanillo aged for 36 months in 4.5 year old cask and 20% Garnacha aged for 30 months in 2-3 year old casks, this wine is a dark ruby red with an orange rim. Intense and lively on the nose, it is spicy and balsamic aromas vanilla, coconut and black pepper with hints of blackberry. Perfectly balanced in acidity and alcohol it has structure from the silky tannins. Ideal for pairing with roasted and grilled meats, barbecue, poultry and game, Iberian ham and sausages, as well as semi-cured cheeses.

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 La Rioja Alta Gran Reserva 904 2004 96 Points, Wine Advocate. “This 2004, from a superb vintage shows a beautiful light red color with a brick rim and a superb nose redolent of balsamic woods, spices, leather, well-hung meat, incense and truffles. The light to medium-bodied palate shows fully resolved tannins, great acidity and pure, pungent flavors that linger in the mouth forever and that can only be Rioja. This is a wine to smell over and over again.”

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95 Points, Wine Advocate. “2001 is a great vintage for all the wines from La Rioja Alta but the long-awaited 2001 Gran Reserva 890 is otherworldly…The final blend contains a majority of Tempranillo with 3% Graciano and 2% Mazuelo. … It shows (even) younger and more concentrated than the 2004 904, a darker shade of red and a somehow backward and reticent nose (relatively speaking) of forest floor, cold bonfire, antique shop, truffles, game, sandalwood, nutmeg and clove. The fruit is also a little darker and the palate more austere, but still showing vibrant and supple, with clean flavors and a great finish… Bravo!”

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