La Rioja Alta Gran Reserva 904 Tinto 1998
Tempranillo from Rioja, Spain
Brick red with iodine hints, medium robe. Intense aroma of spices, noble wood, mentholated chocolate on a background of plums, raisins and sugared fruit. Very long and complex to the nose. Well-balanced to the palate, with a good structure and highly polished, silky and elegant tannins. Complex after-taste with a gentle and long-lasting ending.
The Wine Advocate - "The 1998 Gran Reserva 904 is a blend of 90% Tempranillo and 10% Graciano aged in American cask for four years. It has a very fine nose with notes of dried honey, cloves, raisin and wild heather that blossom in the glass. The palate is medium-bodied with a touch of orange peel on the entry. It has an effortless sense of harmony and poise, with a crisp tense finish and suffused with a sorbet-like freshness. It just dances across the palate, a memorable Rioja with style and panache. Drink now-2030."
Wine Spectator - "Beautiful cigar box, orange peel, clove and rose aromas draw you into this mature, supple red, which shows pronounced acidity and dried citrus, tobacco and spice flavors. A bit lean, a reflection of the vintage, but a lovely example of the traditional style."
La Rioja Alta Winery
On the 10th of July 1890, five families shared their passion for wine and founded La Rioja Alta, S.A. That day was the start of an ongoing searching for excellence that their descendants still pursue nowadays. Since then we have managed to get the best from the marriage of our tradition in wine ageing and the state-of-the-art technology in grape fermentation. Nowadays we are an international reference of great Rioja wines. Our wines are the result of an exhaustive selection of our most exclusive grapes and a slow ageing process that provides them with elegance, complexity and sophistication. They are patiently settle in more than 30,000 American oak casks fashioned by our own coopers. We take great responsibility in making our wines using our own grapes. Wines with personality and wines with soul. 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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Alcohol By Volume GuideMost wine ranges from 10-16% alcohol by volume. Some varietals tend to have higher (for example Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon) or lower alcohol levels (Pinot Noir and many white varietals), but there is always some variation from producer to producer. Some wine falls outside of this range, for instance Port weighs in closer to 20%, while Muscat and Riesling are usually a bit below 10%.
Wine Style Guide
Light & Fruity
- Red wines that are more fruit-forward and lighter in tannin and body.
Smooth & Supple
- Medium bodied reds that go down easy, with smooth tannins and supple fruit.
Earthy & Spicy
- Wines where earthy and/or spicy dominate the flavors – typically medium to full body.
Big & Bold
- Full bodied wines that have concentrated fruit and are higher in alcohol and/or tannins. Some need age.
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