La Rioja Alta Gran Reserva 890 Tinto 2004
Tempranillo from Rioja, Spain
Medium-depth cherry-red with a pale pink rim. Very intense, clean aromas, with dominating balsamic and spicy notes —vanilla, caramel, chocolate mint and spices against a fruity background of prunes and dried apricots. Well-balanced in the mouth, with an elegant acidity, good structure, round, polished tannins and an oily finish. The aftertaste is ample and very long, with notes of sweet fruit and marked licorice. A wine that represents the elegance and classicism of Rioja Gran Reservas.
Wine Enthusiast - "Lightly rusty in color, this outstanding gran reserva is just now entering its golden years, which should endure for another two decades or so. Aromas of raisin, malt, tobacco and cedar are beautiful. This is tight and sinewy in feel, with rooty, creamy, classic Rioja flavors of vanilla, tobacco and dried red fruits. A lasting, stout finish isn't breaking down at all; drink through 2040."
Wine Spectator - "Tea, tobacco, cedar and spicy notes mingle with deeper licorice, plum and iron flavors in this savory red. The texture is supple and polished, but there’s a firm tannic backbone. Focused and harmonious, in the traditional style. Drink now through 2024."
The Wine Advocate - "The 2004 Gran Reserva 890 is the top of the range here, a wine that is only released three/four times per decade in exceptional years. They start by sourcing grapes from their oldest vineyards and going through a slow process of aging the wine in American oak barrels for six years, with ten manual rackings, and each time there is a selection of only the best barrels. The bottled wine is 13.5% alcohol with a remarkably low pH (3.0) that to me means 'quality' of the acidity, which is a healthy six grams per liter (in tartaric). The nose is all about forest floor aromas, game, cigar ash, incense, old furniture and some smoked meat. The palate shows what the technical data was hinting--very fresh with slightly dusty tannins and nice acidity. It's polished, but feels livelier than some older vintages. Rating: 94(+) Points."
James Suckling - "Slightly dusty nose here showing ripe strawberries with savory and herbal undertones. Medium body, very silky tannins and a long and fruity finish. Beautiful length and finesse. The real deal."
Vinous / Antonio Galloni - "Vivid red. The nose displays an array of ripe red fruits, pungent flowers and exotic spices, with vanilla bean and coconut accents building with air. Sweet, broad and luscious, offering intense cherry-vanilla and raspberry liqueur flavors that deepen on the back half. Shows excellent depth as well as finesse, with velvety tannins adding shape to the very long, gripping finish. This suave, seamless Rioja spent six years in American oak barrels."
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La Rioja Alta Winery
Always evolving quality, elegance, innovation, evolution... They are the pillars on which the five founding families erected our winery in 1890 and built a way of living, feeling and producing wines of the highest quality that continue to evolve subtly, perfectly adapting to new tastes. This is how the permanent pursuit of excellence started; a pursuit that continues into the 21st century with identical enthusiasm. We draw the best from our winemaking tradition and wisdom —our own cooperage, manual racking, long ageing periods, etc.— and combine it with the most modern winemaking technology. Today, our wines are an international exemplar of the great wines of Rioja and our brands are present in the best restaurants across all continents. View all La Rioja Alta Wines
About RiojaView a map of Rioja wineries (ree-OH-hah) Spain makes some of the best Tempranillo-based wines in the world. Once the only DOCa (recently joined by Priorat in 2001), Rioja is divided into 3 sub-regions: Rioja Baja, Rioja Alta, Rioja Alavesa. There are 4 red varieties and 3 white varieties allowed in the Rioja DOC. Tempranillo definitely takes center stage, followed by Garnacha (Grenache), which is sometimes added for body, then Graciano and Mazuelo (Carignan). The region also makes roses. For whites, the main grape is Viura (or Macebo), producing fresh, early-drinking wines. Malvasia, the grape that was once the most planted white, is found less often.
Notable FactsThe Rioja wine trade is somewhat confusing. Grapes are typically brought to a merchant's bodega from one of the 20,000+ growers in the region, or via a cooperative. The wine is then bottled and labelled by that bodega. Rioja's Consejo Regulador keeps track of all vineyards and bodegas to make sure they are following the DOCa regulations. Put in place to ensure quality, the system also controls prices.
As with the rest of Spain, the wine label may state Crianza, Reserva or Gran Reserva, depending on barrel & bottle maturation. Crianzas are usually found within two years of the vintage and offer fresh, ripe wines. Reserva and Gran Reserva will be found a few years after the vintage, as the bodega will be aging the wines in barrel and bottle before release. Both typically show more secondary characteristics of spice and oak ageing.
The most popular red varieties of Spain include Tempranillo and Garnacha (Grenache). Whites don't garner quite as much recognition, but there are some regional varieties not to be missed, like Albarino and Verdejo. The popular red regions of Spain include Rioja, known for its outstanding wines of the Tempranillo grape; Ribera del Duero, producing high quality reds from Tempranillo and Garnacha; Galacia, with the sub-region of Rias Baixas, home to the deliciously crisp and floral Albarino grape; and Priorat, a region increasing in popularity with its high-quality cult reds. Other regions of note are Rueda, growing the Verdejo grape, La Mancha, a wide desert region, covered in the most planted white variety in the world, Airen, and Jumilla, making wines based on Monastrell (Mourvedre).
Spain's wine laws are based on the Denominacion de Origen (DO) classification system, devised in the 1930's. A four tiered system, the most basic level is Vina de Mesa (table wine) followed by Vino de la Tierra (country wine), DO and at the top DOC. Currently, only Rioja and Priorat have DOC status, while over 65 DO's scatter the country.
Most DO regions are classified and regulated by how long they age the wines. On a red wine label, one may find the terms Crianza, Reserva or Gran Reserva, denoting the wine's barrel and bottle time. Crianza is usually two years between barrel and bottle (the time in each depends on the DO and/or the winemaker), Reserva up to 4 years and Gran Reserva 5 – 6 years. Classifications of each region and wine are controlled by the region's Consejo Regulador.
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