In the 5-wine range of the La Rioja Alta winery, the Viña Ardanza Reserva sits right in the middle, getting towards the very fine Wine side of things, but still relatively affordable at around $25 to $30.
More importantly, it is the wine that relies on Grenache the most as a complement the Rioja King of grapes: Tempranillo.
The Tempranillo (80%) comes from 30-year-old La Cuesta and Montecillo vineyards located in Fuenmayor y Cenicero.
The remainder of the blend is a Garnacha (20%) from old goblet-trained vines grown at an altitude of 600 m in Tudelilla (in Rioja Baja, the warmer part of Rioja most suited to this grape variety), in plots adjacent to the Finca La Pedriza vineyard.
La Rioja Alta only uses American oak to age its Wine. This Wine is no exception to the Bodega’s rule.
Being a Rioja Reserva, barrel aging is pretty long. The Tempranillo spent 36 months in American oak barrels (used ones mainly, the average age of these barrels is 4 years) and the Garnacha stayed for 30 months in 2- and 3-year old American oak barrels. Clearly the influence of new oak is not what is looked for here. But the long aging should still have brought its fair share.
¿So how good is this 2007 La Rioja Alta Viña Ardanza?
The answer is in the tasting notes:
The color is dark, but not overly dark. It’s essentially dark red, not yet on the orange side of evolution, either is it on the purple spectrum where most young reds are. This 9-year old baby looks like it’s grown up, but no riddles yet!
The nose is intense, quite warm, and more importantly explosive in a complex way.
Let me explain.
The very first smell is dominated by intense coffee and cherry liqueur, jumping off the glass. Stick your nose into it and breathe up for a few seconds, and many other aromas stand out. There’s a ripe-rich red capsicum note, combined with a cured meat tone. The combination of those tow reminds me of Chorizo sausage which is quite peculiar for a Spanish wine. One of the notes, that is definitely there though. If we push the thought even further, we could even find a Paella-like taste. Like the meaty Paella dishes that is, since the wine does have a clear meaty, meat stock-like feel.
Plethora of fruits also inhabit the wine’s fragrance, dark cherry as we spotted early on, blackberry and stewed apple. Pepper, tomato leaf, and pumpkin (yes!!) complete the spectrum. All in all, it smells deep and complex, every sniffs revealing a different tone.
The palate is rich and textural, quite grippy on the finish but not overly tannic. Despite some drying tannins that will probably soften up with another few years of aging, the wine feels overall quite smooth and creamy. On the palate really kick in the American oak flavors. It’s filled with caramel, vanilla, and coconut flavors but those are quite well-integrated already and will fade into the wine even further with age. Like on the nose, the whole feels complex and explosive with loads and loads of flavors parading one after the other in front of your senses. Solid acidity provides some freshness in an otherwise ripe fruit and oak environment, and allows the balance to stay on the impression of a light-enough style.
A very good wine, full of complexity and goodness yet in an elegant style with some freshness provided by a solid acidity. Dark ripe fruit notes combine with savory meaty characters and the marked American oak flavors to provide a rather exuberant experience. But some positively vegetal characteristics (red capsicum and tomato leaf) give the wine a genuine spiciness and distinctive personality. It brings certain lightness, and almost freshness of aromas (like the basil brings a minty tone to Italian dishes, this kind of freshness) that keeps the wine way away from being too ripe and too oaky even if it is.
Pair with grilled meat, the traditional Rioja way of matching and enjoying these wines.
The first step of enjoying wine is pouring.
Wine is fun, wine is sharing. Why not have a little entertainement while pouring it?
Check out the following fun video pouring Vina Ardanza red wine: