Thursday, January 3, 2013

Stars of the La Rioja Alta Winery

Stars of the La Rioja Alta Winery

Talking here about the winery of La Rioja Alta and not the region of the same name in La Rioja. The winery, headquartered in Haro, was established in 1890. In particular, I’m talking about two excellent reds, the Ardanza and the Arana, which I bought on a visit to their boutique (in Haro) this summer.                                             One unusual thing here is that they actually charge you for the tastings, anything from €1.50 to a fiver a glass. You don’t really want to be tasting glassfuls on a road trip, so we shared. The lady, Maria, who served us, had polished off her English in Dublin!                                                                                              In the late 19th century, when phylloxera struck in France, Haro was one of the first towns that French merchants called to, looking for replacement wines. The little town prospered and was only the second Spanish town to get electricity - the first was Jerez.

Vina Arana, Rioja Reserva 2004, 13%, €11.92 at the boutique.

As we sipped our glass (€2.00), we were told that 2004 was a very good year and that the blend is 95% Tempranillo and 5% Mazuelo. It is produced in Haro in a Bordeaux style and was originally known as Rioja Claret.

Colour is a dark cherry red with intense berries on the nose. Drinking from the bottle at home, I found it a smooth fruity medium bodied wine, with pleasant spice and silky tannins. For sure, this is an elegant Rioja with a pleasing aftertaste and excellent length. Highly recommended. Available at Mitchell’s  €22.95.

Vina Ardanza, Reserva 2004, Rioja DO, 13.5%, €15.49 at the boutique.

Made from Tempranillo (80%) and Garnacha, this too has the dark cherry colour with an intense nose of berries, some spice. It is full bodied, a superb combination of power and elegance and comes with a long finish. This ticks all the boxes, even those above 90. Amazing and very highly recommended.

Also look out for the 2001, as they told me that it is amazing and, released in 2009, is available in Ireland with a Reserva Especial on the label. By the way, the tasting glass cost €2.40.

The 2001 is available at Mitchell’s  €26.95

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