La Rioja Alta S.A. Viña Ardanza Reserva, Rioja DOCa 2016

Deep ruby color; cherry, fig, cigar box/cedar, leather, cedar on the nose; black cherry, plum, raspberry, sweet red fruits, fig, balsamic, spice, oak on the palate.

La Rioja Alta S.A. Viña Ardanza Reserva, Rioja DOCa 2016

Dry; round, approachable tannins; modest acidity. Medium-full body; rich, intense; bold, elegant in the mouth. Blend of 80% tempranillo, 20% garnacha, manually harvested. Tempranillo matured in four-year-old American oak. Hand racked barrel-to-barrel six times over three years. Garnacha spent 30 months in oak barrels with two-to-three uses and was hand-racked five times. Hand-racking softens tannins. Impressive 600,000 bottles produced. Spain produces amazing wines at great price points.

At seven years, this is relatively young for a reserva Rioja. Impressively evolves in the glass; consider decanting. I am enjoying first glass as a pop-and-pour after some reverent time in the glass. Second glass poured after decanting while I evaluated the first glass was softer and smoother, in particular the added air time provided nuances on the impressively long finish. Splendid bottle of wine that holds intrigue and pleasant surprises as it evolves. 14.5% ABV

La Rioja vineyard and winery

Nicely structured and sophisticated. Full of flavor and depth that gets better each sip. Rioja is one of Spain’s deservedly famous wine regions. It is one of the two regions classified under the Denominación de Origen Calificada (DOCa) system. The two most important grapes are tempranillo and garnacha, and this is blend of both. There are four categories of aging—joven and crianza are the youngsters. Reserva—this wine—spend three years aging, 12 months minimum in oak, followed by six months in barrel. The top is Gran Reserva, which requires five years of aging, a minimum of two years in oak and two years in bottle. The older wines have greater flavor development and earthy characteristics.

La Rioja vineyard

La Rioja Alta traces roots to 1890 when five Riojan and Basque families founded the Sociedad Vinícola de La Rioja Alta. A woman, Doña Saturnina García Cid y Gárate was the first president. In 1904, Don Alfredo Ardanza, a La Rioja Alta founder, merged his Ardanza Winery into the operation. In 1941, the company settled upon it present name, La Rioja Alta, S.A. The group celebrated its 100th birthday in 1990 with plantings for a new winery, Áster. In 2015, Top Merchant picked Bodegas Áster’s Finca El Otero as the best wine in the world. In 2019, Wine Spectator selected La Rioja Alta Gran Reserva 890 as one of the best wines in the world.

La Rioja fermentation tanks

La Rioja Alta S.A. Viña Ardanza Reserva, Rioja DOCa 2016 is deep, intense, fresh, clean, superb Rioja. Complex and very enjoyable as nuances evolve in glass and/or decanting. Broad range of flavors and soft, round tannins. Large production and distribution. Pair with lamb; grilled, roasted, broiled beef; barbecued meats; veal; poultry, including duck; versatile. Cheese—brie(with rind), camembert (with rind), aged cheddar, manchego, fresh chèvre. $35-40

La Rioja Alta website

La Rioja outdoor tasting
La Rioja wine bar and shop
La Rioja dining room
La Rioja Don Guillermo Lounge
La Rioja barrel aging