2009 La Rioja Alta Viña Alberdi, Rioja, Spain
Most wines from the Rioja Alta winery, like many Rioja red wines in general are blends of Tempranillo with the local or locally-popular grape varieties of Grenache (Garnacha), Graciano, and Mazuelo.
But this Viña Alberdi is a varietal wine made from 100% Tempranillo.
The grapes are sourced from vineyards at an altitude of 500-600m above sea level, from the Rioja Alta’s own estates in Rodezno and Labastida. Vines are about 30 years old and planted on chalky-clay soils.
The Viña Alberdi brand was born in 1978 to replace the old Tercer Año. It owes its name to Don Nicolás Alberdi, the President of Rioja Alta SA from 1947 to 1952.
After fermentation, this 2009 vintage was aged for 2 years exclusively in American oak barrels: the first year in new oak and the second in barrels averaging 3 years in age. The wine was bottled in March 2012.
2009 was a great vintage in Rioja with plenty of heat during summer, and a September rain that both slowed down and enabled the end of the ripening.
So how good is this 2009 La Rioja Alta Viña Alberdi?
The answer is in the tasting Notes:
The color of this Wine is not that intense. It’s dark, but you can still see through the slightly orange-red rim rather well.
Nose into the glass, you’re captivated. Well, I was…
It’s deep and intense. Captivating as I was saying. Dark roasted notes of cocoa, coffee, dark caramel and vanilla are the first ones to shine through. Agitate a little and you get fruity tones of sour cherry liqueur (the cherry itself is a bit vegetal, not like the dark cherry you get out of some Merlot for example, but it’s in a liqueur here so still feels rich and ripe, if that makes any sense!).
The nose is also inhabited by a definite meaty character: cured-meat like. It’s tempting and gives it a savory tone. Some dusty chalk notes play for the minerality side.
You get the feeling, it’s intense and complex on the nose with a whole palette of aromas in all categories.
After such and intense and deep nose, the palate surprises by its relative lightness. It’s obviously not exactly light, but it feels smooth and delicate, especially after the expectations of richness lift up by the smell. The tannins are fine, relatively dense, but more importantly they’re super smooth and velvety. A great acidity is well balanced by the natural wine’s ‘sweetness’ (from ripe fruit and alcohol).
There’s a contradiction going on as the wine feels fresh, smooth, rather light and easy to drink. But at the same time it’s packed full of rich flavors of American oak, vanilla, caramel, plenty of spices and berry liqueur. A classic Rioja wine it must be as indeed the wealth and length of the barrel aging has provided this wine with concentration and depth of flavors, but also has made it smooth and absolutely ready to be enjoyed now, a short time only after release.
This is a style that is not necessarily very intuitive to comprehend, but very easy to love as it’s packed full with notes we love in wine: savory, meaty, roasted, fruity, mineral, intense, and delivered in a smooth and rather ‘approachable’ style.
Pair with grilled meat, the traditional Rioja way of matching and enjoying these wines.
We particularly recommend you try this perfect matching recipe developped by Sommelier Francois Chartier: Sesame seed and allspice roasted duck breast with confit turnips and cloves.