What a fine wine. It amazes me how really good wine files above the fray. This is a lovely integrated Rioja. I think it's getting close to the end of its drinking window but I will say this is a lean elegant wine firing on all cylinders. Great color that reveals bricking near the bottom of the glass, a vibrant grassy, vegetal nose. But mature and engaged. The front palate is a bit astringent on the edges but the mid and back palate reveal a lean well thought out wine. That astringency may burn off with time, I'll let you know. But this wine has personality all its own and embodies why wine is so alive. After about thirty minutes I am still noticing the astringent edges not burning off. That's a drag. The cork broke on opening but the wine is intact. I have a two more and will comment on those. DAY TWO. This wine has a backbone. It still sings after twenty four hours. The astringency is still there, but the lean vibrant focused fruit does not fade. I fully recommend but have pause due to the lack of smoothness on finish. Still kind of amazing.
Perfumed, floral nose with rose petals. Overly well resolved on the palate. The acidity is gone. Fruit is muted at best. More cigar box on the palette than anything, but not overly pronounced. Not a bad wine, just underwhelming.
Cork failed on extraction, but the wine seemed to be fine. Drunk over an evening with braised beef and polenta. From memory, two days later - complexity is the overriding impression. Nose certainly had underbrush, black berry fruit, earth, pine, maybe a faint hint of brown sugar. Palate quite tart, very firm tannins, berry fruit coming forward a little. Very long finish, very stable in the mouth. A terrific wine, showing no signs of age other than that crumbly cork.
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(La Rioja Alta Viņa 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.
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