James Suckling 96
"Very fresh and vivid 2009 with berries, dark spice and hints of walnuts. Full-bodied, reserved and so held back and muscular, but you don’t feel the tannins and the strength. A great wine. Give it two or three years. Try in 2020.
Publish Date: Thursday, August 2, 2018
Wine Advocate 93+
"The current vintage of one of the flagship wines from La Rioja Alta is the 2009 Viña Ardanza Reserva, the second year it has contained 20% Garnacha grapes from their estate vineyards in La Pedriza in the village of Tudelilla in Rioja Baja. The Tempranillo comes from vineyards averaging 30 years of age in Fuenmayor and Cenicero. The hand-harvested bunches were sorted and put in boxes, transferred to the winery at 14 degrees Celsius to be destemmed and crushed, then the grapes fermented in stainless steel, including malolactic. The two varieties were aged separately, 36 months in used American oak barrels for Tempranillo and 30 months for Garnacha, and racked every six months. It was initially closed, shy and serious, riper and a little darker than the 2008 but still very balanced, serious and harmonious. The palate combines power with elegance, with some tannins, focused flavors, some chalky texture and a rustic touch that gives it character. 600,000 bottles produced. It was bottled in May 2014."
Selective harvest in crates and refrigerated transport. The Tempranillo wine spent 36 months in American oak barrels with an average age of 4 years, and the Garnacha wine was aged for only 30 months in 2 to 3 years old American oak barrels so the freshness and authenticity of this grape variety could be maintained. The wines were manually racked six times and bottled in December 2009.
The long growing season allowed for balanced canopy development and the grapes enjoyed good sun exposure. With moderate yields, grape ripening was slow and leisurely, favouring the perfect development of very loose clusters. After a staggered and very selective harvest, the grapes arrived at the crush pad at their optimum ripeness, in excellent health and with a great balance of alcohol content, polyphenols and acidity. The grapes met all the requirements to make great wines, particularly suitable for barrel ageing and laying down for a long time. This harvest was officially rated Very Good.
After a year without getting Garnacha grapes of sufficient quality to make the Viña Ardanza, in 2008 we found that both this grape variety and the Tempranillo were optimal. The Tempranillo grapes (80%) come from our 30-year-old La Cuesta and Montecillo vineyards, located in Fuenmayor y Cenicero. The Garnacha grapes (20%) come from old, goblet-trained vines planted at an altitude of 600 m in Tudelilla (Rioja Baja), in plots adjacent to our Finca La Pedriza vineyard.
WINEMAKING AND AGING
The grapes were harvested manually and taken to the winery, where they were refrigerated in order to preserve their quality. Alcoholic fermentation took place in tanks at controlled temperatures. After malolactic fermentation, the selected wines started their barrel ageing in March 2009. The Tempranillo spent 36 months in American oak barrels with an average age of 4 years and the Garnacha stayed for 30 months in 2- and 3-year old American oak barrels. The wines were racked manually on six occasions. The wine was bottled in November 2012.
Outstanding, medium-high depth, dark-cherry red with an intense pinkish rim. Very intense to the nose, with outstanding spicy aromas of black pepper, cloves, cinnamon and vanilla enveloping fine notes of red berries. In the mouth, we enjoy a pleasant structure, balanced acidity and delicate, enveloping tannins. Broad finish, with a round, elegant aftertaste.
The ideal partner for roasted and grilled meats, barbecues, poultry and game, Iberian ham and sausages, as well as semi-cured cheeses.
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