2016 La Rioja Alta "Viña Ardanza" Reserva, Rioja, Spain
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ABOUT THIS WINE
2016 was an excellent vintage, with wines that stand out for their depth and persistence. Bud break occurred on the regular dates, with moderate rainfall in the spring and evenly distributed throughout the growing season. Despite the drought and high summer temperatures, the acidity of the wines is balanced with the alcohol. They also have high aromatic intensity and quality as well as perfectly ripe tannins, resulting in a smooth and round mouthfeel.
The Tempranillo (80%) comes from 30-year-old vines in the Cuesta and Montecillo vineyards. The Garnacha (20%) is from La Pedriza in Tudelilla, Rioja Oriental, a 40-hectare estate with unbeatable conditions for growing this variety.
Manual picking of the grapes in these plots began at the end of September. Once harvested, the bunches were placed in 20kg boxes and transported to the winery in refrigerated vehicles. After passing through the optical selection tables, only perfectly ripe grapes were included in the blend. Once fermentation was completed, the selected wines were transferred to barrels in February 2017 and aged separately: 36 months in four-year-old American Oak barrels for the tempranillo; and 30 months for the Garnacha, with five manual rackings, in barrels that had previously contained two to three wines. Final blend was bottled in June 2020.
ABOUT THIS PRODUCER
Few dispute that La Rioja Alta S.A. is the leading quality orientated producer in the Rioja. With more than 50,000 casks and 6.4 million bottles stored at any one time, the equivalent of about 8 years sales, La Rioja Alta S.A. is unique in its ability to supply large quantities of fully mature wines of world class quality.
The company owns 300 hectares of vineyards in different parts of the best zones of the Rioja Alta region. La Rioja Alta S.A. is specialized in red wines. The leading grape variety is the Tempranillo with small doses of Mazuelo and Graciano. The Vina Ardanza differs from the other wines with some 25% Garnacha in the blend. After vinification in the new ultra modern vinification plant near Haro, aging is in traditional Bordeaux casks, all made from American oak. Racking is by hand every 6 months with 8 teams working full time racking the 51,000 casks. There is no filtration prior to bottling and further long aging in bottle before release.
In short the wines are made in the traditional Rioja manner. The company is adamant about not using French oak, keeping the unique Rioja style which has been developed since the end of the 19th century. In spite of the varying amount of time in cask and bottle the wines all display a wonderful rich ruby color, gorgeous aromas of oak, spices and fruit followed by a sensational feel on the palate, with a wonderful smooth texture, clean rich oaky/fruity flavors and a long lingering finish. All the wines are ready for consumption on release but will keep for many more years in bottle. This situation is almost unique in the world of wine and is the reason why so many restaurants list La Rioja Alta’s outstanding range of truly classic Rioja wines.