|Rioja Alta Gran Reserva 890||2001||Spain/Portugal||6 x 75cl||£450||1||95 WA|
2001 is a great vintage for all the wines from La Rioja Alta but the long-awaited 2001 Gran Reserva 890 is otherworldly. 2001 was a slow maturing vintage which produced smaller grapes especially in the old vineyards on the slopes of the Sierra Cantabria in the villages of Brinas, Labastida and Villalba where the vineyards that make it into this wine are located. The final blend contains a majority of Tempranillo with 3% Graciano and 2% Mazuelo. The wine ferments with the natural yeasts attached to the grapes in stainless steel vats and is aged for six years in used American oak barrels with 12 manual rackings. A selection of the best barrels were blended together and bottled unfiltered in March 2008. Only 15,000 bottles were produced. It shows (even) younger and more concentrated than the 2004 904, a darker shade of red and a somehow backward and reticent nose (relatively speaking) of forest floor, cold bonfire, antique shop, truffles, game, sandalwood, nutmeg and clove. The fruit is also a little darker and the palate more austere, but still showing vibrant and supple, with clean flavors and a great finish. This is my favorite modern time 890. Bravo! Drink 2016-2026. La Rioja Alta has tremendously improved its wines in the last few years while keeping faithful to the most classical style. They have always been hugely popular in Spain, but they seem to be selling their wines faster and don’t produce every cuvee in every vintage and as a result had very few new wines to show. Vina Ardanza jumped from 2001 to 2004, and the next vintage will be 2005. Followers of traditional Rioja are very lucky as both the 904 as the 890 coming on the market are from great vintages and are superb.
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