1997 La Rioja Alta Gran Reserva 904
I had this wine on SUN with lunch and what a nice surprise it was. While 1997 is not a sound vintage in Rioja, this producer managed to launch a prodigy. La Rioja Alta is one of the few Spanish bodegas that maintains the traditional Rioja style, with long aging in American oak. There are three Reserva styles: Alberdi is light and cedary, with over-tonnes of tobacco and redcurrants; Ardanza riper, a touch spicier but still very elegant, and then the top wines are Gran Reserva 904 and the fine Gran Reserva 890, aged 6 years in oak.
1997 La Rioja Alta Gran Reserva 904 (13% alc)
Ruby red with light orange-brick rim. Well developed and intense nose, still youthful, with clearly defined aromas of orange peel, sweet red fruit, almonds, earth, sugar cane and smoke. Gorgeous nose. Medium body, silky mouth feel, well balanced, outstanding acidity and lively palate, good flavors of fresh red fruit, red cherry, strawberry, red currant, tobacco, leather and earth-more like autumn forest floor. Medium plus finish, very fresh, with lingering flavors. Very good drink-ability. This is a real treat. (93-94/100)
The wine successfully combines, at this stage, some of the primary aromas with the ones given by a graceful aging in the bottle. The polished and well integrated tannins and the balanced acidity will ensure a glorious future for this wine. There is good aging potential even further.
Traditional Rioja style is good in its own, but it just blossoms and is even better when paired with food. I had this wine with barbecued lamb chops and I have to say that the richness of the lamb and the spices used to prepare the meat emphasized the primary fruity aromas of the wine. Just loved it.