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New release: 2015 Viña Ardanza, La Rioja Alta

The latest vintage of La Rioja Alta's ever-popular Viña Ardanza is released today, the superb and accessible 2015.  You might associate that year with rich, generous fruit and fine tannins, based on your knowledge of Bordeaux...and you would be correct. Comparable in quality to the 2010, the 2015 promises to be more approachable and will be ready to enjoy immediately.  Tim Atkin MW and Josh Reynolds both score the vintage 94 points, with terms like lush, spicy, aromatic and intense in their notes evoking the generous nature of the year.

Viña Ardanza 2015 is a blend of 78% Tempranillo from the La Cuesta and Montecillo vineyards in the Rioja Alta subregion, and 22% Garnacha from La Perdriza in Rioja Oriental (which used to be known as Rioja Baja). The Garnacha is key to Ardanza’s structure, aromatics, and concentration. The vines are higher in altitude than most in Rioja Alta, on barren, free-draining soils, with large pudding-stones similar to Châteauneuf-du-Pape. The area is perfectly situated to grow the finest Garnacha.

These two varieties are harvested and vinified separately, ageing around three years in American oak barrels which are produced in-house by La Rioja Alta S.A.’s own cooperage. The fruit for Ardanza now goes through optical sorting, a technology which until recently was the preserve of top estates in Bordeaux like Palmer. The two grapes are then matured separately in American oak (Tempranillo 36 months, and the Garnacha for 30 months).

During the maturation, the wine is racked by hand and by candlelight; La Rioja Alta S.A. are one of the handful of producers still to use this traditional technique in Rioja which ensure supple tannins and the savoury flavours that so defines their style. It is also worth noting that the wine is aged long enough to qualify as a Gran Reserva, but as La Rioja Alta already have three Gran Reservas, and in order to keep the wine in this price point, it is labelled as Reserva.

Sadly, the bodega has decided not to offer large formats this year, so you will just have to double (or quadruple!) up on bottles. 

Offered in bond. Available from August and ready to enjoy from late summer and into the autumn months.  


La Rioja Alta S.A., Rioja

Producer Profile

La Rioja Alta S.A., Rioja

La Rioja Alta S.A. is the quintessential traditional Rioja Bodega, especially famous for its 890 and 904 Gran Reservas.  Founded by five Rioja producing families in 1890, the Bodega itself is in the heart of Haro, in the station district, close to numerous other famous names, including Bodegas Roda, Muga, López de Heredia (makers of Tondonia) and CVNE.

The bodega's 425 hectares of vines mean that unlike many larger bodegas (who buy in a large proportion of their grapes) they have full control over quality in the vineyards.  Despite being highly traditional (barrels are still racked by hand, by candlelight) one of the mottos of the company is 'Always Evolving'.  As well as having their own cooperage (which uses exclusively American oak, traditional in the region) they also have their own laboratory, conducting endless research to improve winemaking.

The 890 Gran Reserva is named after the first wine made by the bodega, in 1890.  The 904 Gran Reserva commemorates the merger with Vina Ardanza (until then a separate bodega) in 1904.  The Vina Ardanza name itself lives on, as a Reserva wine, one of the bodega's most popular.

RED 2015 10 cases La Rioja Alta - Rioja Gran Reserva 904 75cl £310 per case of 6 La Rioja Alta
Rioja Gran Reserva 904
2015 / 10 cases / 75cl
£310 per case of 6
Tasting Notes"Vivid ruby. Expansive red and blue fruit preserve, tobacco, potpourri, spice and botanical herb aromas, with vanilla and smoky mineral notes emerging as the wine opens up. Sappy, penetrating and gently chewy on the palate, offering vibrant, mineral- and spice-accented black raspberry, bitter cherry and rose pastille flavors that deepen and turn sweeter on the back half. Shows sharp focus and floral lift on the impressively long, youthfully tannic finish, which leaves behind notes of candied blue fruits and spicecake. 95 points". Josh Raynolds,"A perfumed nose of plums, mulberries, mushrooms, caramel, sweet tobacco and sweet spices. Full-bodied with velvety, fine tannins and lively acidity. Balanced and supple with a creamy texture. Delicate and precise with a long, polished finish. 97 points." James Suckling

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