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March 21, 2014

Rioja Alta Gran Reserva 904, 2001

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La Rioja Alta has now declared they have exhausted their stock of the 2001 vintage, with the 2004 to be released next month. As such we highly recommend securing the 2001 while stocks last in the UK market. The 96 scoring 2001 is only matched by the 97 scoring 1964, which trades today above £150 a bottle. We have tasted the Gran Reserva 904 2001 several times over the last twelve months and it is startlingly good. It displays haunting aromatics, with superb complexity and fragrance on the nose. The palate is structured, with fine tannin, precise fruits and an incredibly long finish. It is extremely hard to find a wine of this quality and maturity at this price point and with a Price Per Points (POP) score/ratio of 9.06 this wine is hugely undervalued by the market at £24 a bottle in bond.

La Rioja Alta
La Rioja Alta is one of the benchmarks for traditional Rioja. The Estate is celebrated for its Grand Reservas 904 and 890; the 890 is named after the genesis of La Rioja Alta in 1890. The Grand Reservas are only made in exceptional vintages and are considered to be the pinnacle of Rioja today.

The Estate begun in earnest in 1890 founded on the very spot where the head office is located today.  Like most great winemakers La Rioja Alta remain true to traditional practices, while integrating beneficial modern variances on the winemaking leitmotif. Their two wineries complement each other perfectly: The Haro winery is cited in the Station District and embodies the full flavour of traditional Rioja winemaking and the facility is perfect for ageing wines. The modern facility in Labastida was built specifically to provide the perfect environment for maximising the fermentation process.

The 360 hectare vineyards are located in the very best parts of Rioja Alta which boast limestone soil, in the subzones of Rodezno, Labastida, Briones, Cenicero and Fuenmayor. In addition they have a 63 hectare estate in Tudelilla in Rioja Baja to maximise the growth of Garnacha. La Rioja Alta harvest 5,000 kg/hectare, 24% less than the maximum adhered across the region, resulting in very high quality fruit. 80% of the vines are trellis-trained and the remaining 20% are goblet trained.

The growing seasons and harvest in 2001 was optimal for grapevine development. The winemakers were able to pick the fruit unhurried, leading to extremely healthy grapes that reached their peak development during harvest. The blend is 90% Tempranillo from vines over 40 years old from the municipalities of Brinas, Labastida and Villalba, beautifully complimented by 10% Graciano from the vineyards in Briones and Rodezno. After smooth alcoholic and malolactic fermentation the wines were transferred in 2002 to four year old American oak barrels, which the Estate make in house, then racked by the barrel-to-barrel method every six months. The wines were stored here until May 2006, when they were bottled and rested until being released to market last year.

The result is a wine which provides immediate pleasure, yet can age in bottle for another 30 years. It is a truly great Rioja, displaying incredible vibrancy and freshness, combined with beautiful aromas of candied fruit, spices, balsamic, leather with hints of coffee and chocolate mint. The 2001 is structured with a round mouth feel, sweet tannin and fresh acidity with a balanced, refined and elegant finish that goes on for minutes! The Gran Reserva 904 2001, La Rioja Alta is a lot of wine for £31 per bottle duty and VAT paid.

Rioja Alta Gran Reserva 904, 2001
6×75 – £145 IB or £188.40 incl. duty and VAT

Jay Miller, Wine Advocate, 96 points
The 2001 Gran Reserva 904 will not be released for another 3 years. Dark ruby-colored with a garnet rim, it displays a lovely nose of Asian spices, incense, tobacco, balsamic, and blackberry. On the palate it has exceptional depth, layers of spicy black fruit, excellent ripeness, and an elegant personality. Upon release it should continue to evolve for another 5-6 years and drink well through 2040.

Neil Martin, Wine Advocate, 95 points – tasted August 2012
I have admired their wines for many years, Rioja that speaks so eloquently and with such clarity of their place. Quite simply, these are some of the finest Riojas that can grace your cellar: complex, refined, classic but without compromising fruit intensity and to reiterate: wines that speak about where they come from.

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