Vino in Love goes Rioja

Todays’s wine highlight is the Vina Ardanza Reserva Especial from La Rioja Alta.

Rioja Alta

The Rioja Alta is one of the three sub-regions in Spain’s world-famous Rioja wine region – the other two sub-regions are Rioja Baja and Rioja Alavesa. It is centred around the town Haro and covers the western territory of the Rioja, which has a higher elevation that the other sub-regions. This high elevation of the Rioja Alta also explains its name: Alta is Spanish for high. Rioja Alta therefore means High Rioja.

The majority of the vineyards lie south of the Ebro river where the soils and the continental climate are ideal for Tempranillo  – the ‘star’ of the Rioja. Graciano and Garnacha (called Cannonau on Sardinia and Grenache in France) are the other two important grape varieties of the region. Garnacha is Spain’s second most planted red grape variety; Tempranillo is the most planted one. Because of the vast difference between the Rioja Alta and the Rioja Baja, some wineries own vineyards in both sub-regions like Bodegas La Rioja Alta.

Bodegs La Rioja Alta

Five Basque and Riojan families founded Bodegas La Rioja Alta in 1890, which was back then called Sociedad Vinícola de La Rioja Alta. Over the decades, they became one of the Rioja’s most prestigious wineries. The company also owns three other wineries: Lagar de Cervera (Galicia), Torre de Ona (Rioja Alavesa) and Aster (Ribera del Duero). Bodegas La Rioja Alta produces five reds but no white or pink wines. For more information about the winery visit their website or take a look at this Spanish e-book.

Tasting Notes: 2001 Vina Ardanza Reserva Especial

Vina Ardanza is a blend of 80% Tempranillo and 20% Granacha from multiple vineyards. The ones where Tempranillo is grown lie in the Rioja Alta, the Granacha comes from the Rioja Baja. The wine is only produced in good vintages where it is labeled Reserva. In exceptional vintages like 2001, the winery produces a Reserva Especial. According to the bottle label, a Reserva Especial has only been produced in 1964, 1973 and 2001. The current vintage of the Vina Ardanza is 2005.

After a 14-day fermentation process and a 21-day long malolactic fermentation, the wine aged for three years in American oak.

The wine was decanted for roughly two hours. 13.5% was the label indicated ABV.

2001 La Rioja Alta - Vina Ardanza Reserva Especial

In the glass, the wine had a bright ruby red color that showed no signs of oxidation.

The nose was composed of a heavy aroma of vanilla, a bit of pepper, intense black cherries, some dried raspberries, cocoa, tobacco a hint of cardamon.

On the palate, Vina Ardanza was dry, still vidid and slightly mineralic. The wine had pleasing, mellow tannins, was complex, and had a medium body. There were notes of cherry jam, dark choclate and blackberries, which recalled the aromas of the nose. Vina Ardanza was elegant and very well-balanced. Persistent, never-ending aftertaste.

5 / 5 stars      

Parting Words

It is hard for any wine to get better than this because this wine is perfect. There was nothing, not even a tiny part, that could have been better. This is one of the rare occasions that I give a wine a 5-star rating but the Vina Ardanza fully deserves them. This is one of those wines where the bottle is empty too soon, where you want to keep drinking because it tastes so good. This is a wine you have to try. Trust me, it’s worth it!

I’m planing on buying more bottles of this magnificent vintage because this wine will keep evolving for many more years. I’ll also plan on trying newer vintages to see if they can match the 2001 vintage. According to Wine Searcher, the average price for a bottle of 2001 Vina Ardanza is €28. The difficulty will be to find a store that still carries it. Most stores I know are already selling either 2004 or 2005 Vina Ardanza.

Fellow wine blogger Anatoli from Talk-A-Vino had some time ago recommended me to try this wine. Head over to Anatoli’s blog to get a second opinion.

That’s all for today! I’m looking forward to reading your thoughts on this wine in the comment section below. Cheers!


9 comments on “Vino in Love goes Rioja”

  1. Anatoli Reply

    Glad you really liked the wine, Julian, and thanks for the shout out! The 2004 was also a spectacular vintage so you should definitely pay attention to those wines.

    • Julian Rossello Reply

      Anytime! Thank you for the recommendation in the first place 🙂 I’ve bought a bottle of 2004 Vina Ardanza and one of the 2005 vintage. Looking forward to try those. Cheers!

  2. winetalks winetalks Reply

    The wine sounds amazing but I rarely drink Spanish wine. Not sure why really.. I’ll see if this one is available near me. I think I tasted some years ago a different wine from La Rioja Alta – Albredi or something like that. Don’t remember much about it though anymore but the name La Rioja Alta rang a bell.

    • Julian Rossello Reply

      Frank, Vina Ardanza is the perfect Rioja so in my opinion it’s worth the time to find this amazing wine 🙂
      I’m not familiar (yet) with the other wines from La Rioja Alta but I’m planing on trying them, too. I’ve recently bought newer vintages of the Vina Ardanza (2004 & 2005). Next is probably one of their Gran Reservas.

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