La Rioja Alta, 904 Gran Reserva Rioja 2011
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- Tempranillo/Tinta Roriz
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Founded 125+ years ago, La Rioja Alta is legendary, making the finest and most remarkable traditional Riojas that age for decades. Awarded 96 Points by James Suckling, this 2011 is wonderfully complex, with layers of fruit, cedar, walnut and tobacco.
Rioja’s Gran Reserva 904 is in a league of its own. It’s from the team at La Rioja Alta, trailblazers of traditional Rioja since 1890. Everything here gets kid glove treatment, from the cherished vines in the estate’s own vineyards to the cutting edge winemaking equipment in the modern, purpose built cellars. However, many of the old ways are still the best and the estate continues to use its century old cooperage to make the cellar’s barrels. After hand picking and hand sorting, grapes are pressed, fermented and aged in seasoned oak for four years. The wine is racked into new barrels every six months to gently remove sediment, prior to bottling in early 2015. Only released in 2020, it will be superb over the next decade, with roast lamb.
"The 2011 Rioja Gran Reserva 904 has been one of my go-to cuvées since my earliest days as a wine lover. This latest release is a blend of 60-year-old Tempranillo from Briñas, Rodenzo and Villalba (89%) and the remainder Graciano from the Montecillo vineyard. Fully de-stemmed and aged for 54 months in American oak, it was bottled in November 2016. This is more reticent and less forthcoming on the nose compared to the Viña Ardanza, gradually unfolding to reveal enticing scents of raspberry, crushed strawberry, warm leather, terra cotta and a touch of meat juice. This needed more decanting than the Ardanza. The palate is beautifully balanced with fine-grained tannins, and ultra-smooth in terms of texture. Layers of red fruit laced with clove, sprigs of fresh mint and blood orange dovetail into a soy-tinged finish that you expect to fan out, though it declines; it needs maybe another 12–18 months to really show what it is capable of. Magnificent." Neal Martin, vinous.com, September 2020