Sunday, October 29, 2023

La Rioja Alta Viña Arana Rioja Reserva with BBQ

La Rioja Alta Viña Arana Rioja Reserva 2011

Stopping in our local independent wine merchant recently, proprietor Michael offered up some suggested wines to consider. Seeking to support our local merchant, I picked this up among several bottles for wine discovery and enjoyment. 

Finding this in the cellar in the section designated as 'ready to drink', I pulled this for casual sipping with Sunday evening carry out barbecue. I must admit, up until now when researching this wine to write up this blogpost, I didn't remember procuring this wine, or drinking another label from the same producer only six weeks ago. 

Notably, this wine exceeded my expectations for a simple pop and pour selection and only now realize this is the more modest middle tier label of the ultra premium label I had at son Ryan's last month when I posted this blog report. Such is the delight and enjoyment of paying attention and documenting the details of such tastings, to discover these relationships of different wines from a single producer, whether it be a different label, or different vintage.

In that previous tasting, as recorded reported in these pages, we tasted the La Rioja Alta "904 Selección Especial" Gran Reserva Rioja Tempranillo 2015. I found that label and a couple other ultra-premium gran reserva labels when researching this wine. This is the Reserva standard little brother label of those wines at a fraction of the price - current retail price of $32 vs $86 at local merchants. Being of the same varietals from the same vineyard sources, it has a similar profile but with less complexity, elegance and polish.

From that early September blogpost - Bodega (wine producer) La Rioja Alta dates back to 1890 and is one of the oldest and most traditional Rioja bodega whose range of wines is the most consistent, the most readily available, and among the most highly acclaimed.  

It was founded by five Riojan and Basque families who joined together to form Sociedad Vinicola de la Rioja Alta collective in the Haro Station district.

The company was formed with the merger of the Wineries of producer Don Alfredo Ardanza and La Rioja Alta in 1904, hence the 904 flagship label. Additional properties and subsequent brands were developed in 1940's, 1970's, 1988 and their centennial year 1990. A new winery was built and dedicated in 2000.

Today, La Rioja Alta is one of four brands of wines produced from four winery estates that farm over 2000 acres of vineyards in Northern Spain, each marketed under its own distinct brand.

La Rioja is in the northern Basque region of Spain, an hour south of the Atlantic coastal port of Bilbo, just north of the village or Haro, along the banks of the Ebro River. 

The area La Rioja is known for its production of Rioja DOCa (Spain's version Appellation control system such as AVA in the US, AOC in France, and DOCG in Italy) wines.

La Rioja Alta Viña Arana Rioja Reserva 2011 

This is a blend of 95% Tempranillo and 5% Mazuelo estate grown from vineyards in Rodezno and Labastida.

Tempranillo is the primary leading red variety in Spain’s most celebrated wine region. Tempranillo from Rioja is commonly simply labeled, “Rioja.” 

Rioja wines are typically a blend of fruit from its three sub-regions: Rioja Alta, Rioja Alavesa and Rioja Oriental, although specific sub-region (zonas), village (municipios) and vineyard (viñedo singular) wines can now be labeled. 
Rioja Alta and Alavesa, from the highest elevations, are considered to be the source of the brightest, most elegant fruit, while grapes from the warmer and drier, Rioja Oriental, produce wines with deep color, great body and richness.

This Tempranillo Viña Arana Rioja is a Reserva labeled containing select fruit from the vintage that was matured in used, neutral American oak barrels for three years. 

This label release was awarded 93 points by James Suckling and 91 points from Robert Parker's Wine Advocate. 

150,000 bottles were produced so this should be widely available, easy to obtain.

Winemaker Notes

"Lovely, deep cherry red, with a marked pink rim. The nose stands out for its aromatic intensity, with notes of ripe dark fruit leading to an elegant range of balsamic notes, tobacco leaves, caramel, vanilla and chocolate. This new Viña Arana stands out in the mouth for its freshness and balanced acidity. Soft tannins and a pleasant structure provide an elegantly joyful mouthfeel. Over time, the bottle will endow it with an elegant, complex bouquet."

 At a dozen years, the fill level, label, foil and cork were in pristine condition. This is probably at the apex of its drinking window and ready to drink, not likely to improve, but rather will start to diminish in a few years further aging. 

Bright ruby colored, medium full bodied, bright expressive rich round flavorful red fruit flavors with notes of balsamic, tobacco leaf and hints of vanilla and cocoa with moderate, smooth tannins on the lingering finish.

RM 90 points.

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