Alongside neighbouring producers Muga, CVNE, and Lopez de Heredia, La Rioja Alta sit at the top table of Rioja producers, crafting exceptionally complex and delicious wines at an accessible price point. Nothing is rushed here with extended barrel and bottle ageing for their top wines. Whilst they are released to market when ready to drink they still have years – decades in a top year – ahead of them, with further complexity and haunting aromatics to be discovered.
Their key wines are Vina Ardanza, and the Riojas 904 and 890. Vina Ardanza is the bodega’s ‘Burgundy’ styled wine, hence the Burgundy bottle shape, and was created in 1942; however it changed fundamentally in 1999 when a newly purchased vineyard at higher altitude became its source of fruit. La Rioja Alta’s Gran Reserva 904 was named to celebrate the merger of La Rioja Alta and the Ardanza winery in 1904 – hence the numerical moniker. The 904 Gran Reserva brings the ideal combination of rich fruit and oak influence that so characterises the classic wines of this region. Made on average just 4-5 times a decade, it is certainly one of the leading lights of Rioja. 890 is the flagship Gran Reserva, being almost entirely produced from Tempranillo (904 is up to 10% Graciano) and 6 or more years’ ageing in oak versus 4 years for the 904.