Viña Ardanza is the flagship wine of La Rioja Alta, S.A., which is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year.
Even though it is only produced in certain years, Viña Ardanza aims for a level of consistency in how the wine is made. It’s a blend of 80% Tempranillo (from the Vina Ardanza vineyard in Rioja Alta) and 20% Garnacha from Rioja Baja. Both wines are aged in American oak — the Tempranillo sees some 36 months in mostly four-year-old oak while the Garnacha gets about 30 months in two- to three-year-old. The 2008 vintage is the first made from entirely estate-grown fruit.
These are old school Riojas with vibrant red fruits and a maze of earthy, savory, spicy elements. The 2008 should still be on shelves ($32 SRP), while the 2001 Reserva Especial and the 2004 Reserva can be found on the secondary market for about $50. For that kind of money, these wines are absolutely worth it.
I received these wines as trade samples and tasted them sighted.
2001 La Rioja Alta Rioja Viña Ardanza Reserva Especial - Spain, La Rioja, La Rioja Alta, Rioja
Medium ruby color. Aromas of red cherries, dried red currants, red berry compote, and a host of really earthy, savory and floral notes (fallen leaves, tobacco pipe, pine resin, dried roses, smoky herbs) – so much to unpack. The palate is beautiful, tannins provide serious structure and grip, but there’s moderating acidity. Lots of red plum and currant compote, the fruit is slathered in forest floor, chewing tobacco, loamy earth, dried roses, leather – so much complexity. Long, long finish, crisp and bright with mineral tones. Gorgeous stuff for sure, but this could be even more elegant and expressive 10 years from now. (94 points)
2004 La Rioja Alta Rioja Viña Ardanza Reserva - Spain, La Rioja, La Rioja Alta, Rioja
Deep ruby color. There’s a core of black and red cherries and plums on the nose, along with lots of smoke (charcoal, tobacco, roasted cedar, grilled herbs), leather, rose potpourri, lots going on. Pure, vibrant palate with sturdy tannins, but not harsh, moderating acidity. Black and red cherries, crunchy but also slightly roasted notes to the fruit. Laced with so much complex non-fruit elements (tree bark, cigar lounge, leather jacket, rose potpourri, vanilla bean, coffee). Deep mineral tones as well. This has 10+ years of development easily, it’s quite young, but its quality still shows at this point. (93 points)
2008 La Rioja Alta Rioja Viña Ardanza Reserva - Spain, La Rioja, La Rioja Alta, RiojaDeep ruby color. Nose is dense with a deep core of plums, black cherries and red currants, along with potting soil, chewing tobacco, leather, allspice, some cedar and vanilla. Medium-bodied, seriously sturdy tannins, but vibrant acidity, makes for a young but fresh wine. Plums, black cherries, currants, the fruit is dense but crisp, laced with soil, tobacco, leather, pepper, sage, also some coffee grounds and dark chocolate. Lots going on here, but I would bury this in the back of the cellar, forget it for 10-15 years, and be amazed at what it has to offer. 80% Tempranillo, 20% Garnacha, bottled in 2013. (93 points)
This post first appeared on the daily wine blog Terroirist.