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La Rioja Alta and the proverbial kid in a candy store

Established in 1890, La Rioja Alta produces a traditional style of Rioja that has made these some of the most sought-after wines from this hallowed Spanish region. This estate is truly special in its capacity to supply fully mature wines of knock-out quality. With winter upon us, these are the perfect red wine companions.

Dear Reader,
One of Rioja’s most respected bodegas, La Rioja Alta S.A. was established by five families in the heart of Haro in 1890. This great Spanish estate was among a select few who helped set the bar and then maintain the high standards of the classic style of Rioja wine.

All 300 hectares of vines are located in Rioja Alta, hence the name of the bodega. There are a few different wines that make up the range but in each one, the traditional style is carried through and an impressive level of quality for what you pay. True to tradition, only American oak is used for maturation of the red wines. The Tempranillo-led Gran Reservas in particular are aged for long periods in barrels made by the estate’s own cooperage.

La Rioja Alta
6-bottle mixed case

R 3,290
per 6-bottle case

The 6-bottle red mixed case on offer today is the perfect snapshot of the quality of La Rioja Alta’s wines and the value they represent. Disclaimer: purchasing this case will open up a portal for you into the wonderous realm of fine wine that, relative to the quality, does not actually cost that much. A common side-effect from drinking these wines is wanting more – of everything they produce.

Gran Reserva “904” 2011 x 1 bottle
“The 2011 Rioja Gran Reserva 904 has been one of my go-to cuvées since my earliest days as a wine lover. This latest release is a blend of 60-year-old Tempranillo from Briñas, Rodenzo and Villalba (89%) and the remainder Graciano from the Montecillo vineyard. Fully de-stemmed and aged for 54 months in American oak, it was bottled in November 2016…on the nose…gradually unfolding to reveal enticing scents of raspberry, crushed strawberry, warm leather, terra cotta and a touch of meat juice…The palate is beautifully balanced with fine-grained tannins, and ultra-smooth in terms of texture. Magnificent.”
– 94 points | Neal Martin for Vinous | September 2020

Gran Reserva “Viña Arana” 2014 x 1 bottle
“…comprises 94% Tempranillo from Las Cuevas, El Palo and Las Monjas and 6% Graciano from Montecillo. This was aged in American oak for three years and bottled in June 2018…it offers crushed strawberry, field mushroom, clove and singed leather on the nose, hints of vine tomato and balsamic following with aeration. The palate is medium-bodied with supple, lithe tannins that lend this Gran Reserva its smooth veneer. Moderate in depth, it is classic in style and no bodybuilder. It remains rather understated toward the finish, offering soy-infused red fruit, sour cherries, orange peel, porcini and dried herbs.”
– 94 points | Neal Martin for Vinous | September 2020

Reserva “Viña Alberdi” 2015 x 2 bottles
“…is a good introduction to the house style: balsamic reds with abundant notes of sweet spices and cigar ash, developed aromas of forest floor and a creamy twist making small concessions for a fresher and cleaner profile in the last few years but keeping the classic style. There are notes of ground tobacco and earth, and the palate is seamless and sleek, with polished tannins and a soft mouthfeel…It was bottled in September 2018 after two years in American oak barrels.”
– 91 points | Luis Gutiérrez for Parker’s Wine Advocate | October 2020

Reserva “Viña Ardanza” 2012 x 2 bottles
Garnacha is an important component in the 2012 Viña Ardanza Reserva, where it represents 20% of the blend (the rest is, of course, Tempranillo)…The wine is a prototype of polished and aged Rioja with a ruby color with some orange and a developed nose with subtle aromas of decayed leaves, sweet spices and some cherries in liqueur even, quite complex and harmonious. The palate is velvety but rich, with resolved tannins and a fine chalky mouthfeel, sleek and elegant, terribly balanced. The flavors are pure and defined, and there is an overall sense of harmony that I like very much. Brilliant Ardanza!…It has been in bottle since March 2016, so it’s very approachable but should also age nicely in bottle. Drink or keep.”
– 94 points | Luis Gutiérrez for Parker’s Wine Advocate | October 2020

Gran Reserva "890" Selección Especial
2005

The “890” Gran Reserva is only bottled in exceptional years. The next vintage to be released will be the 2010. The “890” in the name comes from the year the estate was founded – 1890.

R 2,200
per bottle
*packaged in original wooden cases of 6*

Gran Reserva “890” Selección Especial 2005 
“Shimmering garnet. Aromas of dried cherry, potpourri, vanilla, cigar box and exotic spices; a smoky mineral quality builds in the glass. Sweet, concentrated and seamless on the palate, offering cherry compote, red currant and rose pastille flavours that put on weight and pick up a spicy nuance on the back half. Conveys a suave blend of power and delicacy and closes sweet and gently tannic, with superb persistence and an echo of candied flowers and red fruits. This bottling and the 2001 are the only Selección Especial versions of the 890 Gran Reserva that have been produced by La Rioja Alta.”
– 97 points | Josh Raynolds for Vinous | April 2021

Albariño "Lagar de Cervera" 2019

The 2019 Albariño is produced from the Lagar de Cervera estate’s vineyards in O Rosal and Cambados situated in the D.O. region of Rias Baixas. (Try this next to the 2020 Albariño from Newton Johnson – the leading producer of this varietal in South Africa).

R 290
per bottle

Many thanks.

Kind regards,
Simon Crawley
Account Manager | WSET – Level 3

Food Pairing Suggestions

As a general suggestion from the Bodega for the red wines, enjoy them with slow-cooked stews, meat roasts and braised game. The Gran Reservas especially are lovely to enjoy after the main meal with chocolate-based desserts and smoked and aged hard cheeses.

With regards to the Albariño, it is an ideal wine to enjoy with seafood like paella, and of course sushi. You can also serve it with an array of salads, poultry and light, fresh cheese.