10 cases of this amazing 2001 Rioja arrived yesterday
Spanish Table Seattle Newsletter June 23, 2011
Two years ago we spent a glorious week in Haro, Rioja. A fascinating aspect of this town is its history: in the mid 1800’s, Bordeaux winemakers set up production here after multiple natural disasters wiped out their vineyards. Bordelaise oenologists introduced new techniques to Spanish winemakers including aging in barriques, which catapulted Rioja winemaking to world class levels for the first time. When Haro built a rail connection to move all of this wine to France, many of the best producers built wineries here.
Our visit to La Rioja Alta on that trip was simply incredible. Founded in 1890 by a group of 5 partners, La Rioja Alta is a benchmark for traditional Rioja wines, with its uncompromising quality and expressive wines. Over tapas with Gabriela Sansinenea and Technical Director Julio Sáenz, we tasted multiple wines including a barrel sample of the highly anticipated 2001 Viña Ardanza. 2001 was a superb vintage and at La Rioja Alta, this wine was so distinctive that it earned the “Reserva Especial” designation which the winery has awarded to only 3 vintages in its history (1964, 1973 and 2001). The barrel sample was powerful and voluptuous, with beautiful fruit, elegance and silky tannins. We couldn’t wait to scoop up most of the distributor’s shipment when it arrived this week since we’ve been waiting 2 years to get our hands on it!
For Rioja lovers, Haro makes a great base for visiting exceptional wineries. Virtually next door to each other are Bodegas R. Lopez Heredia, Muga, La Rioja Alta, and Bodegas Roda, all of whom who give tours by appointment; check the link on their websites. Bodegas CUNE is also located in Haro, on the edge of town.
2001 La Rioja Alta Viña Ardanza Reserva Especial Rioja ($36.00/750 ml; $19.99/375 ml)
“Sexy, intensely perfumed bouquet of ripe raspberry and cherry with suggestions of potpourri, sandalwood and vanilla. Shows more power and darker fruits on the palate, picking up a touch of singed plum that adds a serious quality to the sweet black raspberry and cherry flavors without costing the wine any of its vibrancy. The long, sweet finish hangs on with very good tenacity.” 92 points Stephen Tanzer
2003 Viña Alberdi Reserva Rioja ($19.99/750 ml; $12.99/375 ml) “Powerful aromas of dried cherry, singed plum, vanillin oak and rose oil, plus a smoky undertone. Rich, supple and sweet, offering deep, oak-spiced cherry and dark berry flavors accented by licorice and candied flowers. Chewy tannins add definition and grip to the sweet finishing flavors.” 90 points Stephen Tanzer
2004 Viña Arana Reserva Rioja ($29.99/750 ml; $16.99/375 ml) “Deeply pitched cherry and blackcurrant aromas are complemented by smoked meat, licorice and a hint of leather. Chewy, palate-staining dark fruit flavors are slow to unfold, eventually showing a sweet floral pastille quality and a hint of bitter cherry pit. Finishes with solid tannic grip and a lingering note of candied rose. Give this some time.” 90 points Stephen Tanzer
1991 R. Lopez Heredia Vina Tondonia Gran Reserva Rioja ($90.00) “Light, vivid red. Deep cherry and blackcurrant on the nose, with suave vanilla and potpourri qualities adding complexity. Round, fleshy red and dark berry flavors are impressively concentrated but not heavy. Gains strength with air and finishes on a sappy blackcurrant note, with excellent spicy persistence. I marginally prefer the finesse of the Bosconia today but would bet on this one aging longer.” 94 points Stephen Tanzer
1991 R. Lopez Heredia Viña Bosconia Gran Reserva Rioja ($90.00) ” Amber-edged, fading red. Compelling bouquet of dried red fruits, rose, lavender, anise and gingerbread. Deep, velvety red fruit flavors are surprisingly lithe, with candied floral and licorice qualities contributing complexity. Gains sweetness with air and finishes long, with strong mineral and floral qualities. For this much complexity in an aged Burgundy, you’d likely pay twice as much.” 94 points Stephen Tanzer
The classic “La Guita” Manzanilla is back in stock after a long absence! $11.99/750 ml; $6.99/375 ml.
We’ve still got a few Padron Pepper plants ($4.99 each). It’s finally time to plant them outdoors!
Going on a picnic or wanting a no-fuss meal? Pick up some fresh, ready-to-eat Empanadas. Six flavors including two vegetarian are available every Friday and Saturday. $3.00 each, less 10% discount for purchase of six and 20% off a dozen.