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 Vintage2001 Label 1 of 75 
TypeRed
ProducerLa Rioja Alta (web)
VarietyTempranillo Blend
DesignationViña Ardanza Reserva Especial
Vineyardn/a
CountrySpain
RegionLa Rioja
SubRegionLa Rioja Alta
AppellationRioja
UPC Code(s)8413529821087, 8413529822084, 890841002031

Drinking Windows and Values
Drinking window: Drink between 2013 and 2024 (based on 123 user opinions)
Wine Market Journal quarterly auction price: See La Rioja Alta Vina Ardanza Reserva Especial on the Wine Market Journal.

Community Tasting History

Community Tasting Notes (average 90.8 pts. and median of 91 pts. in 983 notes) - hiding notes with no text

 Tasted by SanderB on 6/26/2015 & rated 93 points: Garnet with slight bricking. Herbal nose with dill dominant. Needed about an hour to open. Wonderful red licorice, lots and lots of cedar, orange marmalade, with a tartness that holds it together. Dusty raspberry finish. Great place right now. (995 views)
 Tasted by jeffreylubowski on 6/21/2015 & rated 92 points: 5th bottle in several years. I served this to my friends blind at a party. It changed all throughout the night in the decanter. Vanilla and American oak followed by sweet cherry and blood orange. Long finish. Traditional rioja that most got blind. Will last for decades. A special wine. (1814 views)
 Tasted by jdporter3 on 6/12/2015: Drank with vertical of 2004, 2005 - see notes on those. Excellent as before, not likely to get better but certainly has life in it. A very good wine. (2180 views)
 Tasted by rossi.wine on 6/3/2015 & rated 92 points: From magnum. Wonderful nose, complex and open with rich fruit, smoke, slightly meaty. On the palate fresh and mineral with round, soft tannins. Nicely balanced, vibrant and long. Very good. Drink or hold. 91-93 (2717 views)
 Tasted by Pdxwinegeek on 6/1/2015 & rated 90 points: Really good, was entertaining friends so did not take down specific tasting notes, but the years in the bottle definitely provided a balance and smoothness, but it still tasted fresh and vital, it was enjoyed by all.

Only one bottle left.... (2962 views)
 Tasted by loegaute on 5/23/2015 & rated 88 points: Plommesyltetøy, bjørnebær, lær, varm stein, røyk, svidd treverk og dill. Friskt og saftig anslag, god konsentrasjon og lengde. Frisk, spenstig syre og lett tørrende tanniner. Sursøt. Følger nesen, men med litt rosin og mye mer dill. 88p. (2534 views)
 Tasted by americanstorm on 5/23/2015 & rated 92 points: Great wine. Really good qpr. Wish I had more. Really easy drinking and at a very nice place right now. Give it about 15 - 20 min decant and you are good to go. (2807 views)
 Tasted by wineslide on 5/10/2015: This is the last bottle of this wine I have. The previous two I tasted were downright awful while the ones before that were quite nice.
Opened this yesterday, this bottle is one of the good ones. Cedar, cherries and a smooth lightish weight for Rioja. Will report back tomorrow. (2790 views)
 Tasted by Zoomin Z on 5/10/2015 & rated 92 points: Winner of the night, compared to two other Riojas on Mother's Day. (all left open to breathe for 1-2 hours)
Bright red fruits (mostly cherry) and masculine but balanced oak, a medium body with generous fruit and pleasing, substantial, food friendly acidity. Classic tannins now getting mellower with age.
Would not hold on to these too much longer.

This is what I think of, when I think of Rioja. (3363 views)
 Tasted by AV2012 on 4/19/2015 & rated 88 points: Classic, old school Rioja, just as before. A lot of dill and pickle from US oak, medium body, some red fruits, rather high accidity, very nice food wine, that becomes fatter and bolder with air. (3962 views)
 Tasted by Will Davies on 4/16/2015 & rated 87 points: Dense and bright but desperately oaky at this stage. Fierce acid, flavour profile much more shouty than the last bottle. Also lacking harmony and tannic integration although this will hopefully improve with age. Leave til 2017. (4307 views)
 Tasted by Mlermontov on 4/15/2015 & rated 93 points: From the Cave of Ali Kebob-a: oh my! while Muga was mature-ish and polished - this wine is a young wilderbeast!! Started of funky and meaty with vanilla notes but evolved over the night into mint and herbs and forest floor. bright cherry mid with powerful tannins and refreshing tangy acidity. like biting into and handful of berries. finish is long, tangy with smooth tannins that will require years more of aging. another ridiculous QPR and a reminder - I NEED MORE RIOJA. this is just awesome, mindblowing young wine. (93++) (4170 views)
 Tasted by yossarian.livez on 4/5/2015: Completely unlike the last bottle. Now that i've tasted through a few of them, tremendous bottle variation. And while not off, just scatter shot and brisque. (3613 views)
 Tasted by Colia on 3/9/2015 & rated 96 points: Damn fine impression of a Gevrey-Chambertin. Sweet strawberry and cherries, black tea, and spices. Still bright and alive, but the wine was all about texture. Silk. (4695 views)
 Tasted by Edouard84 on 3/1/2015 & rated 93 points: Last bottle was the best. (4378 views)
 Tasted by Tarabucetta on 2/27/2015 & rated 88 points: Aerated more than an hour in a carafe.
Too much oak from my point of view. You can find less expensive wine in Bordeaux with the same taste. I'm bit disappointed regarding to the excellent Gran reserva 904.
This wine is still young (4269 views)
 Tasted by tooch on 2/16/2015: February Rotating Wine Dinner (Mon Ami Gabi - Chicago, IL): In a flight of older Rioja's this absolutely stood out. Denser, darker, and years away from the beautiful 1985 vintage open alongside it. I think the material here is quite good, but I worry about the oak here. Tons of oak everywhere you look in this wine and you have to wonder if this will age in a similar arc as the 1985? (4519 views)
 Tasted by DK Amateur on 2/7/2015: Decanted an hour before drinking and served in Riedel Vinum Bordeaux glasses. Needed a bit more time than that to show all its spicy, earthy, dark-berried aromas with a distinct strawberry note. Juicy and vigourous. Hard to decide if its best now, in this kind of relative Rioja youth, or in ten or twenty years when it will presumably be seamlessly mellow. (4502 views)
 Tasted by Murphy6000 on 2/2/2015: Gamey, beefy, flavoursome. A well made, characterful wine. (4255 views)
 Tasted by Nealefisher on 2/1/2015 & rated 91 points: Super Bowl Sunday - Last bottle of this, much better than the previous. Strong notes of red fruits and very light tannins. Paired well with lamb. Easy drinking, not too complex. Still very nice. (3732 views)
 Tasted by GTFreek on 1/26/2015: Blind tasted. Sweet caramelized fennel on the nose, dried red cherry, crushed violets, stewed strawberry, sour cherry, a tell tale coconut note. Clearly developed with some age. Medium tannins, acidity. The whole room (13 people) correctly guessed aged Rioja. (4246 views)
 Tasted by julao on 1/25/2015 & rated 92 points: Domino nigth @ home w/foursome (8 btls consumed), consistent notes, everybody loved the wine as Well as food (burrata con tomate deshidratado y huevos rotos sobre espárragos) (3690 views)
 Tasted by Los 12 Glotones on 1/17/2015 & rated 91 points: - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Els12golafres Wine Tasting Group: http://vinosclasicos.blogspot.com.es/2014/12/vina-ardanza-2001-reserva-especial.html
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De color rubí rojizo de capa media, claro, límpido, brillante. Relejos rojizos y anaranjados, refulgente. Borde estrecho, cobrizo, diferenciado respecto al menisco.

Aromas de fuerte intensidad, repleto de matices. Abunda la fruta roja, reducida, con una fuerte impronta de madera tostada, cedro, y una batería de reductivos (monte umbrío, hojarasca, yute, duelas envinadas). Brilla en exceso, aún sin mucho orden, sacando notas tostadas, regaliz Zara, cacao en polvo, especias ahumadas. Muchísima fuerza. Después de 14 años este vino sigue jovencísimo.

En boca es grueso, amplio, maduro, con un apunte de dulcedumbre tan varietal que nos da a pensar que aquí hay más que el 20% de garnacha declarada. Sabroso, vivo, enérgico, de una solidez tremenda y personalidad arrolladora. Taninos firmes, aún marcados, y una acidez que envuelve el conjunto como la cobertura de un caramelo. Un Viña Ardanza en gran estado de forma que apenas ha iniciado su andadura. Tiene todo lo necesario para disfrutar un recorrido larguísimo y seguir puliéndose. Y vaya si lo necesita!!! El mejor Ardanza desde 1996!!!

Esta botella procede de uno de los primeros lotes vendidos por la bodega y el resultado es absolutamente diferente de los otros que hemos probado. Muchos de ellos eran vinos simplones, excesivos y faltos de equilibrio. Las dudas son claras: cómo se pudo vender tantísimo Ardanza del 2001 sin realizar ensamblaje de cosechas? Cuesta creer que durante 4-5 años se haya podido encontrar este vino en casi cualquier lugar. Por muy abundante que fuera la añada no puede dar para tanto... Damos por hecho que ha habido un ensamblaje, sin saber hasta que punto, con las cosechas de 2002 y 2003. Lo de "Reserva Especial" ha sido una gran operación de marketing y un éxito de ventas pero nos ha dejado con muchas dudas. Mal asunto!!

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80% tempranillo, 20% garnacha - 13.5% vol.
La garnacha procede de viñedos ubicados en Tudelilla y el resto de uvas son originarias de la finca Viña Ardanza de Montecillo así como de pequeños productores de las localidades de Haro, Briñas, Briones, Villalba y Labastida. Realiza la primera fermentación en depósitos de acero inoxidable durante 14 días. La fermentación maloláctica tardó en realizarse 21 días. Trasegado a barricas de roble americano de 225 litros de 3 años de edad media, en marzo de 2002. Es sometido a crianza durante un periodo de 36 meses, con un total de 2 trasiegas manuales cada año hasta la fecha de su embotellado, en septiembre de 2005. Un mínimo de 48 meses de guarda en botellero en los calados de la bodega antes de ser comercializado.
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 Tasted by Griffeyfan04 on 1/11/2015 & rated 92 points: Similar notes to my last bottle. No variation like some have seen. Love the saddle leather, orange peel, and game meats on the nose and palate. Really a nice wine (4618 views)
 Tasted by rubdomi on 12/29/2014: bottle oxidized. like vinegar. (4351 views)
 Only displaying the 25 most recent notes - click to see all notes for this wine...

Professional 'Channels'
By Jancis Robinson, MW
JancisRobinson.com (11/24/2012)
(La Rioja Alta, Viña Ardanza Reserva Especial Rioja Red) Subscribe to see review text.
By Richard Hemming
JancisRobinson.com (5/4/2012)
(La Rioja Alta, Viña Ardanza Reserva Especial Rioja Red) Subscribe to see review text.
By Jancis Robinson, MW
JancisRobinson.com (10/7/2011)
(La Rioja Alta, Viña Ardanza Reserva Especial Rioja Red) Subscribe to see review text.
By Josh Raynolds
Vinous, September/October 2010, IWC Issue #152
(La Rioja Alta Vina Ardanza Reserva Especial Rioja) Subscribe to see review text.
By Richard Jennings
RJonWine.com (6/28/2012)
(La Rioja Alta Rioja Viña Ardanza Reserva Especial) Bricking dark red violet color; appealing, dried berry, fruitcake, baked black fruit, licorice nose; mature, silky textured, baked berry, baked plum, prune, licorice palate; medium-plus finish 92+ points  92 points
By Richard Jennings
RJonWine.com (5/2/2011)
(La Rioja Alta Rioja Viña Ardanza Reserva Especial) Mature, plum, dill, oak nose; mature, light-medium bodied, plum, black fruit palate; medium-plus finish  89 points
By Chris Kissack
Winedoctor, February 2008
(La Rioja Alta Viña Ardanza Rioja Reserva Especial) The 2001 Viña Ardanza Reserva Especial from La Rioja Alta is 80% Tempranillo, largely sourced from the Viña Ardanza estate in Fuenmayor, in the Rioja Alta district; what doesn't come from here is derived from other Rioja Alta vineyards. The balance is Garnacha, sourced from Ausejo and Tudelilla in Rioja Baja. The fruit was fermented in stainless steel, regulated to 28ºC, and malolactic was complete before transfer into American oak in March 2002. The wine was racked every six months before eventual bottling in September 2005. This lengthy élevage shows through in the wine today which, although rich in pigment, with a very dark hue especially at the core of the wine, is showing the mature tones of age and time spent in wood. And yet aromatically this wine remains painfully youthful - to my nose at least, as I enjoy Rioja with a great more deal age than this wine has at present - with firm and vibrant notes of redcurrant and cranberry, white pepper, thyme, rosemary and blackcurrant, the fruit character suggestion of a rich substance rather than anything lean or bright. Certainly evocative and aromatic, and there are certainly some vanilla and chocolate-mint aromas from the oak flexing their muscles here, although these oaky notes are well-matched the fragrant fruit now, and will undoubtedly fade with time. It has a surprisingly cool and well-framed style at the start of the palate, but is also rich and showing plentiful substance. But there is still a precise and surprisingly stony grip to it, with softer honeyed substance towards the end of the palate, revealing plenty of peppery spice here also. An elegant style, but with a firm and energy-charged finish, I've no doubt this is going to do extremely well in the cellar, especially as it has quite some length to it in the finish.  17 points
NOTE: Scores and reviews are the property of JancisRobinson.com and Vinous and RJonWine.com and Winedoctor. (manage subscription channels)

CellarTracker Wiki Articles (login to edit | view all articles)

La Rioja Alta

Producer website

2001 La Rioja Alta Rioja Viña Ardanza Reserva Especial

PRODUCER'S TECH SHEET

Just the other day we received a sample from one of our suppliers of a recently released 2001 Rioja. Now, we'll be honest with you, we really didn't know what to expect from this wine (outside of the known parameters of a classic vintage from Rioja combined with an outstanding producer). Suffice to say that we were incredibly pleased with the outcome...

La Rioja Alta was founded in 1890 in Haro, the capital of Rioja Alta, in close proximity to Lopez de Heredia and Marques de Riscal. The Bodega’s wines are all blends, there are no single vineyard wines, and all of the wines are produced from estate-grown grapes. In what La Rioja Alta considers the greatest years (there have been three to date; 2001, 1973, and 1964) the wine is called Reserva Especial.

On initial opening the nose exhibits classic Rioja notes of saddle leather and incense, underpinned by an earthy, forest floor-like aroma. On the palate, this wine is absolutely delicious - a heady combination of black and red cherries, incredibly refined and elegantly soft tannins and a strong backbone of acidity which will undoubtedly help to maintain the wine's wonderful structure and length of finish for many, many years to come.


- alcohol 13.5%
- total acidity: 6.1 g/l (tartaric); volatile Acidity: 0.80 g/l (acetic); pH: 3.58
- 80% Tempranillo and 20% Garnacha; the Tempranillo grapes come from 30-year-old vines planted in Viña Ardanza's Fuenmayor and Cenicero vineyards; the Garnacha grapes come from old, goblet-pruned vines planted at an altitude of 600 m above sea level in Tudelilla (Rioja Baja), in plots adjacent to VA's Finca La Pedriza estate
- alcoholic fermentation took place for 14 days in stainless steel tanks; the malolactic fermentation process was over in 21 days; after being transferred, the wine went into casks in March 2002; it spent 36 months in American oak an average of 3 years old, and was racked by hand on 6 occasions; bottling took place in September 2005

Tempranillo Blend

Tempranillo is the backbone of wines made in the well-known Spanish regions Rioja and Ribera del Duero, but is also grown as far afield as Mexico and Australia.

As a flavor profile, red fruits like strawberries and cherries can predominate - but with a rustic edge. Many wines made from Tempranillo will spend a few years in barrel and bottle before reaching the consumer. Many Tempranillo-based wines see a few years of oak - add that to a few years of bottle and the wine can give a subtle - and occasionaly not-so-subtle - leathery mouthfeel. The combination of the tart fruit and tannins make this wine very food friendly.

Spain

Vinos de España - Wines of Spain (Instituto Español de Comercio Exterior) | Wikipedia

Spain is the third largest wine producing nation in the world, occupying the majority of the Iberian Peninsula with vast diversity in climate, culture, and of course, wine. From inky, dark reds of the [Priorat] to dry, white Finos from Andalusia, Spain can easily boast of elaborating a wide variety of notable styles. Within Spain there are currently 62 demarcated wine regions, of which a handful have gained international recognition: [Rioja], Priorat and [Ribera del Duero]. Yet these regions are only a small sample of the high quality wines Spain produces. Regions such as Cava, Penedes, Somontano, Galicia, Rueda and Jerez are only a few of the numerous regions worthy of exploration throughout Spain. Spain can also lay claim to having the most land under vine in the world, growing up to, by some accounts, 600 indigenous varietals of which Tempranillo is their most well known. Other popular varietals include [Garnacha], Bobal and Monastrell for reds and for whites; the infamous Palomino Fino grape which is used in the production of sherry wine, Pedro Ximenez in Montilla Morilles, Albarino used in the creation of the bright, effervescent wines of Galicia, and Verdejo in Rueda. - Source: - Catavino.net

Spain is not in the forefront of winemaking for its dessert wines, other than for its sweet wines from Sherry country including the highly revered Olorosos and Amontillados. But apart from Sherry Spain has a range of styles of dessert wines, ranging from the those made from the Pedro Ximenez grape primarily in Jerez and Montilla-Moriles) to luscious, red dessert wines made in the Mediterranean from the Garnacha (Grenache) grape. Some good Moscatels are made in Mallorca, Alicante and Navarre. The northwest corner of Spain, Galicia, with its bitter Atlantic climate, is even making dessert wines, called “Tostadillos” in the village of Ribadivia (similar to France’s “Vin de Paille”). The Canary Islands have made interesting dessert wines for centuries (they are mentioned by Shakespeare, for example) and in recent years the quality of winemaking has been improved and the Canary Islands wines are being better marketed now. The winemaking styles for “Vinos Dulces” are also diverse, from “Late Harvest” (Vendimia Tardía) to “Fortified Wines” (Fermentación Parcial). Based on in-spain.info.

La Rioja

Consejo Regulador DOC Rioja - Control Board of the D.O.Ca. Rioja

Rioja

Consejo Regulador DOC Rioja - Control Board of the D.O.Ca. Rioja

HISTORY
The wine region of La Rioja in Spain was first demarcated by the area's governing body, the Consejo Regulador, in 1926. The region extends for approximately 120 kilometres along both sides of the Ebro River and is, at its widest point, bounded by mountains on either side. In fact, the word 'Rioja' is a derivation of the two words 'Rio' (River) and 'Oja (the name of a tributary of the Ebro that runs right through La Rioja creating a series of microclimates and providing much needed water for the vines).

La Rioja has always been a vital part of Spain's history. Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Romans, Moors, and finally, medieval Crusaders have all played a part in the area's history. The Romans, however, made wine a part of their culture wherever they travelled, and La Rioja was no exception. Ancient sites of Roman wineries still exist in and around the area today.
After the Romans came the Moors, and winemaking all but ceased. It wasn't until after the famous 'El Cid' liberated Spain, and medieval Christianity brought trade via the Crusaders through the region, that it flourished again. The Benedictine monks of Cluny in Burgundy, known for their viticulture, helped to establish three monasteries in the area. The vines they planted were mostly white grapes. In the fourteenth century, English traders acquired a taste for a local Rioja wine, which was a blend of white and red wines called Blancos Pardillos. Over time, development of lighter reds came about satisfying eighteenth century English and French courts.

The real improvements to Rioja's viticulture began around 1780 when the need to prolong wine during transport brought about experimentation with different woods and preservatives. Studies were made of the techniques used by great chateaux in Bordeaux. With the outbreak of the Peninsular War, progress was halted until 1852, when the Bordelais came south to Rioja seeking vines because their vineyards had been blighted with oidium. French winemaking methods were eagerly taken up by great rivals the Marques de Murrieta and Marques de Riscal (who both claim to have been the first in Rioja to make wine in the Bordeaux fashion).

When phylloxera devastated Bordeaux in the 1870s and the French influence really took hold in Rioja, many of the region's finest bodegas started production on what we now consider as the great wines of Rioja. It’s important to remember that Bordeaux winemaking methods then were very different to those employed today in France, and involved long ageing in barrel, a factor that the Riojans took up enthusiastically. So enthusiastically in fact that to this day there are a number of Bodegas that still make their wine in a surprisingly similar fashion to that of the Bordelais in the later part of the 1800s and this also explains why oak ageing is such an important part of Riojan winemaking.

USE OF OAK
Pronounced vanilla flavours in the wines are a trademark of the region though some modern winemakers are experimenting with making wines less influenced by oak. Originally French oak was used but as the cost of the barrels increased many bodegas began to buy American oak planks and fashion them into barrels at Spanish cooperages in a style more closely resembling the French method. This included hand splitting the wood, rather than sawing, and allowing the planks time to dry and 'season' in the outdoors versus drying in the kiln. In recent times, more bodegas have begun using French oak and many will age wines in both American and French oak for blending purposes.

In the past, it was not uncommon for some bodegas to age their red wines for 15-20 years or even more before their release. One notable example of this is Marqués de Murrieta which released its 1942 vintage Gran Reserva in 1983 after 41 years of ageing. Today most bodegas have shifted their winemaking focus to wines that are ready to drink sooner with the top wines typically ageing for 4-8 years prior to release though some traditionalists still age longer. The typical bodega owns anywhere from 10,000 to 40,000 oak barrels.
The use of oak in white wine has declined significantly in recent times when before the norm was traditionally 2-5 years in oak. This created slightly oxidised wines with flavours of caramel, coffee, and roasted nuts that did not appeal to a large market of consumers. Today the focus of white winemakers has been to enhance the vibrancy and fruit flavours of the wine.

WINE CLASSIFICATION
Most Riojan Bodegas believe that the ageing of a wine should be the responsibility of the producer rather than that of the consumer, and this is why much Rioja is more mature than wines from other countries. Rioja red wines are classified into four categories. The first, simply labelled 'Rioja', or 'Sin Crianza' (meaning 'without ageing') is the youngest, spending less than a year in oak. A "Crianza" is wine aged for at least two years, at least one of which is in oak. 'Reserva' is aged for at least three years, of which at least one year is in oak. Finally, 'Gran Reserva' wines have been aged at least two years in oak and three years in bottle. Reserva and Gran Reserva wines are not necessarily produced each year. Also produced are wines in a semi-crianza style, those that have had a couple of months of oak influence but not enough to be called a full crianza. The designation of Crianza, Reserva or Gran Reserva might not always appear on the front label but may appear on a neck or back label in the form of a stamp designation known as Consejo.

SUB REGIONS
Rioja Alta
Located on the western edge of the region, and at higher elevations than the other areas, the Rioja Alta is known for more fruity and concentrated wines which can have very smooth texture and mouth feel.

Rioja Alavesa
Despite sharing a similar climate as the Alta region, the Rioja Alavesa produces wines with a fuller body and higher acidity. Vineyards in the area have a low vine density with large spacing between rows. This is due to the relatively poor conditions of the soil with the vines needing more distance from each other and less competition for the nutrients in the surrounding soil.

Rioja Baja
Unlike the more continental climate of the Alta and Alavesa, the Rioja Baja is strongly influenced by a Mediterranean climate which makes this area the warmest and driest of the Rioja. In the summer months, drought can be a significant viticultural hazard, though since the late 1990s irrigation has been permitted. Temperatures in the summer typically reach 95°F. Twenty percent of the vineyards actually fall within the Navarra appellation but the wine produced from the grapes is still allowed to claim the Rioja designation. The predominant grape here is the Garnacha which prefers the hot conditions, unlike the more aromatic Tempranillo. Consequently Baja wines are very deeply coloured and can be highly alcoholic with some wines at 18% alcohol by volume. The wines typically do not have much acidity or aroma and are generally used as blending components with wines from other parts of
the Rioja.

The Riojans are master blenders (as they have to be because there are relatively few single estates in the area, the norm being to blend from a wide variety of vineyards and wine areas). Consequently they are able to reduce vintage variation by careful blending and many of the best wines vary relatively little between vintages.

VITICULTURE & GRAPES
Rioja wines are normally a blend of various grape varieties, and can be either red (tinto), white (blanco) or rosé (rosado). Rioja has a total of 57,000 hectares cultivated, yielding 250 million litres of wine annually, of which 85% is red. The harvest time for most Rioja vineyards is September-October with the northern Rioja Alta having the latest harvest in late October. The soil here is clay-based with a high concentration of chalk and iron (which provides the redness in the soil that may be responsible for the region's name, Rioja, meaning red). There is also significant concentration of limestone, sandstone and alluvial silt.

Among the Tintos, the best-known and most widely-used variety is Tempranillo. Other grapes used include Garnacha Tinta, Graciano, and Mazuelo. A typical blend will consist of approximately 60% Tempranillo and up to 20% Garnacha, with much smaller proportions of Mazuelo and Graciano. Each grape adds a unique component to the wine with Tempranillo contributing the main flavours and ageing potential to the wine; Garnacha adding body and alcohol; Mazuelo adding seasoning flavours and Graciano adding additional aromas.
With Rioja Blanco, Viura is the prominent grape (also known as Macabeo) and is sometimes blended with some Malvesia and Garnacha Blanca. In the white wines the Viura contributes mild fruitness, acidity and some aroma to the blend with Garnacha Blanca adding body and Malvasia adding aroma. Rosados are mostly derived from Garnacha grapes. The 'international varieties' of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot have gained some attention and use through experimental plantings by some bodegas but their use has created wines distinctly different from the typical Rioja.

Some of the most sought after grapes come from the limestone/sandstone based 'old vine' vineyards in the Alavesa and Alta regions. These 40 year old plus vines are prized due to their low yields and more concentrated flavours. A unique DO regulation stipulates that the cost of the grapes used to make Rioja must exceed by at least 200% the national average of wine grapes used in all Spanish wines.

VINTAGE CHART
Rioja (Red) Year %

2004 Superb vintage, classic wines Drink or Hold 94
2003 Hot, dry year, long-ageing wines Drink or Hold 91
2002 Smallest vintage in 10 years. Variable quality.
Keep to top names Drink or Hold 87
2001 Excellent year for long ageing Reservas
and Gran Reservas Drink or Hold 94
2000 A generally good vintage with fine Reservas Drink or Hold 89
1999 Smaller vintage of good quality Drink or Hold 88
1998 Good vintage Drink or Hold 97
1997 Unexciting so far, but quaffable Drink or Hold 84
1996 Good year, plenty of ageing potential Drink or Hold 89
1995 Very good vintage, Reservas now showing excellent fruit Drink or Hold 92
1994 Outstanding, some great long-ageing wines Drink or Hold 94
1993 Lesser wines, apart from best-known names Drink 77
1992 Rather light vintage Drink 80
1991 Still improving, average quality Drink or Hold 85
1990 Fairly ordinary but quaffable Drink 84
1989 Good, firm structure Drink 88



Rioja Reserva & Gran Reserva – Vintages of the Eighties Year %

1989 Goodish vintage, well balanced Drink 88
1988 Fairly good vintage, well balanced wines Drink 88
1987 Very attractive vintage, now at peak Drink 90
1986 Average year, now drinking well Drink 87
1985 Average year, now drinking well Drink 87
1984 Disappointing, with problem weather Avoid 80
1983 Don't keep it any longer Drink 86
1982 Now past its best Drink 83
1981 Superb wines, finest will keep longer Drink 90
1980 Average vintage, don't keep any longer Drink 86

 
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