The why, the what and the how of...

La Rioja Alta

La Rioja Alta, founded in 1890 by five local growers, is a benchmark Rioja estate when it comes to the level of quality and sense of tradition. The Bodega is highly regarded for its ability to supply large amounts of fully mature of wine.

La Rioja Alta began in 1890 as a partnership between five quality conscious growers focussed on producing and exporting modern style Rioja of the highest quality. This coincided with the time when French vineyards were decimated by phylloxera, which meant that fine wine drinkers had to expand their horizons. Rioja, due to its perfect climatic and soil conditions, had already been acknowledged as a source of premium wines but was often not considered due to the difficulty to access them. The railway linking up to Bilbao then changed that. The La Rioja Alta Bodega was positioned next to the Haro railway station, which is where it still stands today.

In 1904, Alfredo Ardanza merged the group with his own winery, which meant additional access to some of the finest vineyards within the region. Their two Gran Reservas are named after these two dates (minus the first digit to not create confusion): 890 Gran Reserva which is only produced in exceptional years and the 904 Gran Reserva. The wines consist of around 90% Tempranillo and 10% Graciano (the 890 also has a small portion of Mazuelo).

Their three Reserva wines are named after the three founding families: Alberdi, Arana and Ardanza respectively. In addition, La Rioja Alta also produces Viña Arana; a blend of Tempranillo and around 20% Garnacha.

Today, La Rioja Alta owns about 425 hectares of vines; providing access to top quality grapes which translates directly in all their wines. The vineyards are planted mainly to Tempranillo with a small proportion of Garnacha and Graciano.

The secret of La Rioja Alta is based on respecting the traditional style of Rioja winemaking methods. The wines are vinified in the new ultra-modern vinification facility near Haro. The maturation vessels are traditional Bordeaux casks, made exclusively from American oak. Racking is done by hand every 6 months. There is no filtration prior to bottling and further aging in bottle occurs before the wines are released to the market. With around 50,000 casks of wine and 6.4 million bottles stored at the same time, this represents about 8 years’ worth of sales for La Rioja Alta. This illustrates the Bodega’s unique ability to supply mature wines.

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