Wine Advocate 94
"Cropped from a vintage deemed almost perfect, the 2005 Viña Ardanza Reserva follows the same varietal mix found in the last vintages; 80% Tempranillo and 20% Garnacha. The grapes are always sourced from the same vineyards, 30-year-old Tempranillo from Fuenmayor and Cenicero in Rioja Alta and Garnacha from Tudelilla in Rioja Baja. In the case of the 2005, it was racked six times during its elevage. The one bottle I tasted first was a bit evolved with plenty of cigar ash, incense and leather along with hung game (woodcock came to mind). But the palate was drying out a bit. Another bottle showed much fresher, with a great classical Rioja profile. This is very affordable making it a superb value for what it delivers. 600,000 bottles were produced of the prodigious 2005 vintage. This wine is not produced in 2002, 2003, 2006, 2011 or 2013."
"La Rioja Alta celebrates its 125th anniversary in 2015. Last year, I only tasted three wines from La Rioja Alta and I tasted six this time. The quality is as good as ever, with superb wines from the almost-perfect 2005 vintage coming into the market. Great Rioja, as traditional as it gets, in good quantity and moderate (and often plain great) prices."
Wine Spectator 92
"This traditional red offers dried cherry, orange peel, tobacco and sanguine flavors in a silky texture, supported by light, firm tannins and balsamic acidity. Focused and fresh, with a juicy finish. Drink now. 50,000 cases made. –TM"
Vinous Media 92
"(80% tempranillo and 20% garnacha; aged in used American oak barrels for three years): Deep ruby. Sexy, highly perfumed aromas of red fruit preserves, vanilla, mocha and fresh flowers, with a hint of pipe tobacco coming up with air. Sappy and broad on entry, then more taut in the middle, with sweet cherry-vanilla and spicecake flavors given lift by juicy acidity. Closes smooth, spicy and long, with lingering smokiness and fine-grained tannins adding grip. A touch more lively than the excellent 2004 version of this wine and of equal quality, which makes it an outstanding value in old-school Rioja.
-- Josh Raynolds"
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