La Rioja Alta wines

Winery La Rioja Alta S.A. an international exemplar

Quality, elegance, innovation, sentiment, evolution. These are the pillars built by the five families that built this winery in 1890. They have served as the foundations of a way of living, feeling and making quality wines, which continue to evolve with subtleness, as well as a perfect adaptation to the new gastronomic tastes. This is how they started a permanent search for excellence that continues with the same enthusiasm in the 21st century, drawing the best from the wise oenological tradition and combining it with the most modern production technology. Nowadays, the wines from La Rioja Alta are an international reference of great wines, and their brands are present in the best gastronomic circuits of the five continents.

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There are 7 products.

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Viña Alberdi 2015

The baby of the Bodega La Rioja Alta family: a classic Crianza of Rioja

Spain   D.O.Ca. Rioja (La Rioja)

Viña Alberdi 2015
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Vegan
Price €12.20
Incl. VAT
  • New
91
Parker
93
Suckling

Viña Ardanza 2012

A great classic in the Rioja style

Spain   D.O.Ca. Rioja (La Rioja)

Viña Ardanza 2012
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Vegan
Price €21.30
Incl. VAT
  • New
94
Parker
93
Atkin
95
Suckling

Rioja Alta 890 Gran Reserva 2005

Spain   D.O.Ca. Rioja (La Rioja)

Rioja Alta 890 Gran Reserva...
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Vegan
Price €137.45
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  • New
97
Peñin
95
Parker
96
Decanter
95
Winespectator
98
Atkin
98
Suckling

Viña Ardanza Magnum 2012

A great classic in the Rioja style

Spain   D.O.Ca. Rioja (La Rioja)

Viña Ardanza Magnum 2012
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6x
-4%
€46.85
unit
Price €48.85
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  • New
94
Parker
95
Decanter
93
Atkin

Viña Arana Gran Reserva 2014

Intense and fresh sophistication

Spain   D.O.Ca. Rioja (La Rioja)

Viña Arana Gran Reserva 2014
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Vegan
Price €28.45
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90
Parker
96
Decanter
95
Atkin
96
Suckling

Rioja Alta 904 Gran Reserva 2011

One of the greatest exponents of the classic long ageing processes of Rioja

Spain   D.O.Ca. Rioja (La Rioja)

Rioja Alta 904 Gran Reserva...
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Vegan
Price €45.80
Incl. VAT
  • New
94
Parker
89
Atkin
96
Suckling

Rioja Alta 904 Gran Reserva Magnum 2011

One of the greatest exponents of the classic long ageing processes of Rioja

Spain   D.O.Ca. Rioja (La Rioja)

Rioja Alta 904 Gran Reserva...
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Price €100.80
Incl. VAT
  • New
94
Parker
96
Suckling

More about La Rioja Alta

10 of July, 1890. This is when the history of this great winery started. On that day, five families from La Rioja and the Basque Country that shared their passion for wine founded ‘Sociedad Vinícola de La Rioja Alta’. The initial capital of the company was of 112,500 pesetas (676.14 euros), of which only 20% were paid-up. With that amount of 22,500 they started a business adventure, with founders who were enthusiastic to produce and age high quality wines in Rioja.

The first president of the company was a women, Ms Saturnina García Cid y Gárate, something that clashes with the reality of those times, where women were pushed to a second place. The remaining founders were Daniel Alfredo Ardanza, Dionisio del Prado, Felipe Puig de la Bellacasa and Mariano Lacort. Several of this winery’s future wines would have the name of some of its founders. Frenchman Vigier was the first oenologist of the house, and Reserva 1890 was the first wine they made. That same year, the company was renamed La Rioja Alta. Only three months after its foundation, the winery agreed to buy the first 3,500 Bordeaux barrels. In those times, wine was sold directly in barrels, which had a capacity of 225 litres and cost 200 pesetas. A few years later, in 1904, Alfredo Ardanza, one of the founders and owner of Bodega Ardanza, suggested the merger of both companies, and in remembrance of this act, they made the famous Gran Reserva 904. In 1935, they presented the brand Bikaña. Today, this brand is exclusively used for restoration businesses in Haro. In 1942, they registered the brand that has given this winery its fame: Viña Ardanza.

 

History of the winery

In 1941, La Rioja Alta acquired its final name, La Rioja Alta S.A., which is still its name today. After the ups and downs of the phylloxera, the company’s wine starts to gain acknowledgement and to be known in Europe and Latin America, and little by little, the company begins its modernisation. Proof of this is that, in 1952, the company acquired the first bottling line, which is also the first Girondine in the whole of La Rioja, with a capacity of 1000 bottles per hour. In 1970, they bought new lands, and the brands Viña Arana and Viña Alberdi were born. In 1974, the brand Viña Arana was launched on the market, replacing the classic 6º Año. In 1978, they registered the brand Viña Alberdi, which replaced ‘Tercer Año’. In 1996, they built a new winery in the municipality of Labastida. This new winery had state-of-the-art technology, which allowed them to significantly increase the quality of their wines. Finally, in 2015, they celebrated their 125th Anniversary.

Apart from the century-old winery in Haro, La Rioja Alta has modern facilities located in Labastida, where they vinify with their own grapes with the help of the most advanced technology. Oak is the focus point of the ageing. This is why they make their own barrels in the cooperage of the century-old facilities of Haro. They use a traditional process, with wood imported from the United States, and dried in the open air for two years. The winery currently has 46,000 oak barrels for the ageing of their wines, and they have over six million bottles in the ageing process.

The group now includes the wineries Áster (in Aguix, Burgos, under D.O. Ribera del Duero), Torre de Oña (Rioja Alavesa), Lagar de Cervera (in Pontevedra, under D.O. Rías Baixas), and La Rioja Alta itself.

 

Work philosophy

The treasure of La Rioja Alta is its vineyard, which currently exceeds 450 hectares located in the best sites of Rioja. The Tempranillo variety prevails, but they also have other native varieties like Graciano, Mazuelo and Grenache, essential to make the different brands and to give them their marked personality.

In fact, for La Rioja Alta achieving and controlling the quality of the grapes is only possible trough a limited production, this is, of less than 5,000 kg per hectare. They believe in a comprehensive technological control from the start of the growth cycle and until the harvest. Therefore, nature is a fundamental part of this winery. In fact, to preserve it they have developed R&D&i programmes, invested in clean energies, reused water and used corks and cases made in a sustainable way.

Also, the latest technology they have in the production cellars gives them certain oenological flexibility, depending on the variety of grape, the farm of origin and the characteristics of the fruit. Racking, for example, is carried out in a traditional way, by candlelight. This favours the evolution of the wine, the natural cleansing of the sediments, and the individual control of each barrel. After remaining in the barrels, the wine is taken to the bottle cellars, where the wines polish their personality rounding off and developing their qualities.

They also have a barrel-cleaning robot that, with short cleaning cycles using hot water and steam, manages to achieve an optimal disinfection temperature, both no the surface and the inside (5 mm) of the staves. This way, the percentages of reduction of contaminating microorganisms are quite high, even achieving their full elimination. All of this, without reducing the aromatic profile of the oak, which continues to give its components to the wine during the entire ageing process after it has been washed. Among other things, they also manage and optimise the amounts of oxygen the wine receives in the different stages of production, during the ageing in the barrel and in the bottling. They also reduce the use of sulphurous anhydride, thus anticipating a foreseeable European directive that limits the use of sulphur.

 

Wines from La Rioja Alta

We present you with the list of wines from La Rioja Alta, which –as always–, you can buy at Decántalo:

La Rioja Alta “Gran Reserva 890”
is made with Tempranillo (95%) and Mazuelo (2%) from their own vineyards in Briñas, Labastida and Villalba, and some Graciano from the farm Montecillo. This wine follows a very careful selection process. Only the best bunches are transported to the winery in small cool boxes. After a careful destemming and crushing, the grapes are taken to the deposits, where they ferment at a controlled temperature. After winter, they carry out another selection for their ageing, for a period of 6 years, in American oak barrels. During the 10 rackings, the barrels destined to the final coupage are selected once again. This wine has a very intense aroma, clean, with prevailing balsamic and spicy notes: vanilla, caramel, English chocolate, on a background of prunes and dried apricots. In the mouth, it is balances, with an elegant acidity, structure, with round and polished tannins, and an unctuous finish. The aftertaste is ample, very long, with notes of sweet fruit and a very marked liquorice. This wine represents the elegance and classicism of the Grandes Reservas from Rioja. We must highlight that the Gran Reserva 890 vintage of 2004 has become the best wine in D.O.Ca. Rioja with 98 points, according to the recently published Guía Peñín 2017, a national and international reference publication for Spanish wine.

La Rioja Alta “Gran Reserva 904” is made with Tempranillo (90%) and Graciano (10%) from vineyards that are over 40 years old, located in the areas of Briñas, Labastida and Villalba. This wine is aged for 48 months in barrels, with racking every six months. On the nose, it is very intense. It has balsamic notes of almonds, mint chocolate, vanillas and roasting, which give way to notes of fruit in jam. In the mouth, it has a good structure, balanced. With a pleasant acidity, soft and round sweet tannins that leave a long and complex aftertaste. A wine that is polished and filled with finesse and elegance thanks to the passing of time.

Worth mentioning is that Gran Reserva 904 of 2005 was the best wine of the world in 2016, according to the American publication ‘Wine Enthusiast’. This extraordinary result obviously confirms the incredible worldwide success of Gran Reserva 904, and it acquired even more relevance after knowing that a total of 22,000 wines were assessed by ‘Wine Enthusiast’ throughout 2016. Out of all of them, only 100 references from 15 countries were able to become part of this exclusive list that includes wines of all styles.

Viña Ardanza Reserva is made with 80% Tempranillo and 20% Grenache. The Tempranillo variety comes from the farms La Cuesta and Montecillo, which are 30 years old. They are located in Fuenmayor and Cenicero, while the Grenache comes from old vines planted in vase-shape at 600 metres of altitude in Tudelilla (Rioja Baja), in plots next to the farm Finca La Pedriza. During its ageing, the Tempranillo remained 36 months in American oak of 4 years on average, and the Grenache, 30 months in second- and third-use American oak barrels, with six manual rackings. On the nose, it has great intensity with prevailing aromas of black pepper, clove, cinnamon and vanilla, which envelope fine notes of red berries. In the mouth, it has a pleasant structure, a balanced acidity and delicate and enveloping tannins.

Viña Arana Reserva is made with Tempranillo and a hint of Mazuelo from the farms El Palo and Las Monjas in Rodezno, planted on loamy soils in 1973. This wine is aged for 3 years with racking every 6 months. On the nose, it is intense, with soft balsamic tertiary aromas, of tobacco, caramel, incense and spices, and with a background of ripe fruit. In the mouth, it is consistent, balanced, with fine and elegant tannins.

Viña Alberdi Crianza is a varietal wine of Tempranillo from part of the farms Las Monjas, Bardal and Las Cuevas, in Rodezno and Alto del Rey, in Labastida. The vineyards are of their property, and they are located at 500-600 metres above sea level, planted on clayey-calcareous soils that are over 40 years old. After the fermentations, the wine started ageing in American oak barrels made by the winery for 2 years: the first year in new oak, and the second year, in 3-year-old oak, with a total of 4 rackings. On the nose, it is ample, with prevalence of ripe red fruit, currants and liquorice. It is round, with sweet notes of vanilla, caramel, jam and spices. In the mouth, it is especially balanced, soft and elegant, with a medium body, and sweet and tasty tannins. It has an amiable aftertaste, where the ripe fruit, the aromatic herbs and the notes of vanilla and caramel mark a pleasant and delicate finish.

Situation of La Rioja Alta