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May 20, 2015

Rioja Alta Gran Reserva 904, 2005

La.Rioja.Alta.en.Labastida

We are delighted to be able to offer the new vintage of La Rioja Alta Gran Reserva 904, the 2005, which has been scored 96 points by Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate (Luis Gutierrez). We are also delighted to be able to offer a promotional price of £125 per case on orders of three cases or more.

La Rioja Alta Gran Reserva 904 is only made in exceptional vintages and the 2005 vintage was officially rated as excellent in Rioja, with high temperatures balanced with just enough rain resulting in very healthy balanced grapes. Luis Gutierrez describes the 2005 vintage as ‘almost perfect’ going on to say that the 904 ‘is usually my favorite wine from La Rioja Alta and 2005 is one of its best showings, going back to the quality of the vintages of the 1950s and 60s. At this quality level this is a bargain.’

Gutierrez has awarded the 2005 96 points, putting it on par with the magnificent 2004 and 2001 as one of their greatest modern day vintages. Despite only producing 12,500 cases in 2005 a favourable FX rate means we can release lower than the 2004.  For £27.46 per bottle duty and VAT paid, this provides some of the best value for money of any leading wine of the world, a wine Neal Martin describes as “Quite simply…one of the finest Riojas that can grace your cellar” . Moreover, this superb wine is ready to drink now, yet capable of ageing and improving for decades. This immediate drinking window means the wine gets more expensive quickly, as is demonstrated form the table below:

table

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 founding 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.

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 prescribed across the region, resulting in very high quality fruit. 80% of the vines are trellis-trained and the remaining 20% are goblet trained. After alcoholic and malolactic fermentation the wines are transferred 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 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 and leather with hints of coffee and chocolate mint.

Rioja Alta Gran Reserva 904, 2005 - 6×75 – £135 IB
Luis Gutierrez, Wine Advocate – 96 Points
The 2005 Gran Reserva 904 is a superb blend of Tempranillo from the villages of Briñas, Labastida and Villalba with 10% Graciano from Briones and Rodezno. The grapes were destemmed and crushed and fermented in stainless steel for 18 days at 25 C. Malolactic fermentation was spontaneous and lasted 38 days. These wines are marked by a long aging in used American oak barrels following the most strict Riojan tradition; four years during which time the wine was manually racked eight times. This is usually my favorite wine from La Rioja Alta and 2005 is one of its best showings, going back to the quality of the vintages of the 1950s and 60s. The nose is very balsamic with notes of camphor, hints of mint, leather and hung game wrapped around a core of cherries in liqueur. Together it is balanced, subtle, truly elegant and classical. The palate is only medium-bodied but with great concentration of flavors that are very tasty, mineral, almost salty and framed by ultra-fine tannins and smashing balance. A great classic. This wine will be released in October 2015, a full ten years after the vintage. At this quality level this is a bargain. 150,000 bottles produced.

La Rioja Alta celebrates its 125th anniversary in 2015. Last year, I only tasted three wines from La Rioja Alta and I tasted six this time. The quality is as good as ever, with superb wines from the almost-perfect 2005 vintage coming into the market. Great Rioja, as traditional as it gets, in good quantity and moderate (and often plain great) prices. 
Drink 2015 - 2035

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