The Gran Reserva 904 was named in memory of a very important date for the La Rioja Alta SA winery.
In 1904, founder of La Rioja Alta, Don Alfredo Ardanza, who was also owner the Ardanza winery in the same Rioja region, proposed a merger of the two companies has was deeply involved into. In addition, this date also coincides with what is considered one of the greatest vintages in local history.
To prevent consumer’s confusion with the actual vintage of the 1904 Cuvée wines, the number 1 was dropped and this Gran Reserva eventually named 904.
The same story goes for the other Rioja Alta’s Gran Reserva, the 890.
Both Gran Reserva wines represent the finest expression of the winery’s savoir-faire.
The 904 is a blend of Tempranillo (90%) and Graciano (10%) from vines over 40 years old in vineyards in Briñas, Labastida and Villalba.
After fermentation, the different batches were transferred into 4-year-old American oak barrels, and aged there for 4 years in the typical Riojan tradition.
So this 2005 vintage was not bottled before November 2010! To further the maturation of the wine, it was then aged another 5 years in bottle before it was released in October 2015.
Social Vignerons has therefore been one of the first few to review this wine since its official release.
But how good is this La Rioja Alta 904 Gran Reserva in the end?
The answer is in the tasting notes:
The nose throws rather intense notes of cherry liqueur and caramel. Plenty of spices (nutmeg, clove), leathery tones, dark cocoa, coffee, and orange peel provide complexity and depth to an appealing nose that feels luscious and savory sweet.
Like for all Rioja Alta wine I’ve tasted so far, my first palate impression is surprise, of how smooth the wine feels. Of course there are tannins, this is no light Pinot Noir. The finish is actually a little drying which is when you feel the tannins. But the whole palate feels almost silky. Velvety is actually probably more the approriate term as there is some granulosity from the tannins.
There’s a great acidity providing freshness and giving the impression we’re drinking a lighter wine than it is.
Flavor wise, the term ‘fruit-bomb’ did come through my mind at my first taste. The cherry detected on the nose is on the palate extrovert and exuberant driving all other flavors in a world of rich ripe but somehow savory fruit.
But it is not exactly a ‘fruit-bomb’ if you think of some New World wines where alcohol sustains masses of rich dark fruit aromas that are most-often associated with the term. Here there is loads of other flavors backing up the fruit and making the experience a complex one.
Spices are packed into this wine and poignant. Sweet ones. They are coated in what feels like sweetness that probably comes from the American oak and a definite caramel character that follows through all along the tasting.
Finally, there’s dark roasted notes, of cocoa and coffee, toasted bread, and roasted meat.
A complex, smooth, and succulent wine that combines contradictions with elements more usually found in lighter or richer wines: great acidity, dense velvety tannic texture, intense but well integrated American oak notes, with plenty of fruit as well.
When to Drink?
Most wines in that class should really been cellared at least 5 or 10 years being before drunk.
But here, the winery has done the hard work for you and aged it 4 years in barrel and 6 years in bottle.
The result is a wine that is already very smooth, drinkable, enjoyable and full of bouquet character.
If you’re after even more savory notes like spiced grilled meat flavors, the 2005 Gran Reserva 904 will probably positively evolve for another solid 10 years.