Wine Advocate 96
"The 2001 Gran Reserva 904 will not be released for another 3 years. Dark ruby-colored with a garnet rim, it displays a lovely nose of Asian spices, incense, tobacco, balsamic, and blackberry. On the palate it has exceptional depth, layers of spicy black fruit, excellent ripeness, and an elegant personality. Upon release it should continue to evolve for another 5-6 years and drink well through 2040." ~ JM
International Wine Report 94
"The 2001 La Rioja Alta Rioja Gran Reserva ‘904’ bursts with seductive aromas of blackberry, cocoanut, leather, spices and hints of smoke. This displays wonderful balance, structure and depth with fine tannins that exhibit a beautiful inner sweetness. There is a beam of acidity that gives this lift into the long finish. This is a fantastic Gran Reserva that should drink well for many years to come. Composed of 90% Tempranillo from vines over 40 years old in the municipalities of Briñas, Labastida and Villalba, along with a touch of Graciano from the Melchorón I and II vineyards in Briones and Rodezno. "
La Rioja Alta was founded in 1890 in Haro, the capital of Rioja Alta, in close proximity to Lopez de Heredia and Marques de Riscal. The Bodega’s wines are all blends, there are no single vineyard wines, and all of the wines are produced from estate-grown grapes. During my visit in May, 2010, I had the opportunity to taste verticals of 2 of La Rioja Alta’s wines, Vina Ardanza Reserva and Gran Reserva 904. Vina Ardanza’s wines are labeled Reserva with three exceptions. In what La Rioja Alta considers the greatest years (there have been three to date, 2001, 1973, and 1964) the wine is called Reserva Especial. There are usually four vintages a decade of La Rioja Alta’s Gran Reserva 904. It is made from a blend of Tempranillo and Graciano and aged for 5 years in barrel and 5 years in bottle prior to release.
" Tempranillo (90%) from Briñas, Labastida and Villalba complemented by Graciano from our Melchorón I y II at Briones and Rodezno.
After the alcoholic and malolactic fermentations, the wine was put into nearly new American oak barrels in June 1996. It remained in cask, being racked by hand eight times until it was bottled in July 2000. The wine was only gently filtered so as to preserve the flavours to the maximum. It may well show a sediment in bottle. " ~ Winery notes
La Rioja AltaView all from La Rioja Alta
Few dispute that La Rioja Alta S.A. is the leading quality orientated producer in the Rioja. With more than 50,000 casks and 6.4 million bottles stored at any one time, the equivalent of about 8 years sales, La Rioja Alta S.A. is unique in its ability to supply large quantities of fully mature wines of world class quality.
The company owns 300 hectares of vineyards in different parts of the best zones of the Rioja Alta region. La Rioja Alta S.A. is specialized in red wines. The leading grape variety is the Tempranillo with small doses of Mazuelo and Graciano. The Vina Ardanza differs from the other wines with some 25% Garnacha in the blend. After vinification in the new ultra modern vinification plant near Haro, aging is in traditional Bordeaux casks, all made from American oak. Racking is by hand every 6 months with 8 teams working full time racking the 51,000 casks. There is no filtration prior to bottling and further long aging in bottle before release.
In short the wines are made in the traditional Rioja manner. The company is adamant about not using French oak, keeping the unique Rioja style which has been developed since the end of the 19th century. In spite of the varying amount of time in cask and bottle the wines all display a wonderful rich ruby colour, gorgeous aromas of oak, spices and fruit followed by a sensational feel on the palate, with a wonderful smooth texture, clean rich oaky/fruity flavours and a long lingering finish. All the wines are ready for consumption on release but will keep for many more years in bottle. This situation is almost unique in the world of wine and is the reason why so many restaurants list La Rioja Alta's outstanding range of truly classic Rioja wines.
The Bodega was formed in 1890 as a partnership of 5 quality-conscious growers keen to exploit the export potential for well-made, 'modern' Rioja. At this time, French vineyards were ravaged by phylloxera, and connoisseurs were having to look elsewhere for supplies of fine wine. Rioja, with its excellent climate and soils, had already attracted attention, and experiments with Bordeaux-style vinification and barrique-aging were proving very successful. The region's only real disadvantage was its remoteness, cut off from the lucrative markets to the north by the same mountains that ensured its favorable climate. This problem was solved by construction of the rail link to Bilbao, and it is no coincidence that Bodegas La Rioja Alta was established next to the Haro railway station in the same year it opened.
In 1904, La Rioja Alta absorbed Bodegas Ardanza, and gained access to some of the finest vineyards in the Rioja Alta district. The luxury 904 bottling commemorates this important milestone in the company's development. Since then Rioja has seen more bad times than good, and many producers have harmed the reputation of the region and its production methods, releasing sloppily-aged wines which were never good enough to support a long time in cask. But La Rioja Alta has never let standards slip, and continues to this day the tradition of careful long-aging that gives Rioja its unique character. These wines offer a wonderfully complex bouquet, rich flavours, a seductively smooth texture, and are all ready to drink on release.
Farming Practice:Practicing Organic