Wednesday, November 12, 2008

1998 Bodegas Riojanas Vina Albina Gran Reserva

Country: Spain
Region: Rioja
Price: around €20,o0
Closure: Cork

This wine is produced by Bodegas Riojanas, a bodega with over 100 years of history in the Rioja region.
The Rioja region is divided into three main regions one of which one is the Rioja Alta where Riojanas is based (the others being Rioja Alavesa and Rioja Baja). The Rioja Alta region has higher elevations than the other regions is famous for its concentrated, fruity, smooth textured wines.

Bodegas Riojanas currently has more than 300 hectares of vine under direct control of which the majority is Tempranillo. Interestingly enough, however, is that the bodega also has one of the largest vineyard expanses dedicated to both Graciano and Mazueo in the Rioja region. From this they produce a number of wine ranges with the most serious being the Gran Albina, the Monte Real and the Vina Albina ranges. Most of the ranges include a crianza, reserva and gran reserva depending on the vintage and fruit quality.

In Rioja wines are categorized as either joven, crianza, reserva, and gran reserva. This system has everything to do with ranking according to the aging of the wine; in the last three the length of time the wine was aged in oak. This wine is the gran reserva which means that it must, at a minimum, have aged for two years in oak and at least three years in the bottle. Currently Riojanas has 25,000 barrels plus a stock of 4,500,000 bottles stored in a purpose-built installation of more than 35,000 square meters in size.

As you would expect from a Rioja, the majority of the wine is made up of the Tempranillo variety (
80%) blended with Mazuelo (15%) and Graciano (5%). Here's what I thought of it:

Cherry to brick red, browning towards the edges of the glass. Really nice soft, fruity nose with some funky, earthy aromas. An attractive, almost velvet, palate with stewed ripe, red cherry fruit and tones of American oak. Also some interesting savoury characters in there. Grippy tannins are still evident but well integrated and not too obtrusive. A classy, mature wine that, though definitely in the later half of its life, is still really good drinking now and probably will be for a couple of years yet.