It’s a treat visiting them. It’s kind of like wine church when they throw open the doors of their massive aging cellars and you get the rush of decades of greatness just sitting there…waiting…for you. The only difference being most folks generally don’t have the Pavlovian reaction of uncontrollable drooling when actual church doors are opened.
As I stated earlier, the La Rioja Alta Rioja Gran Reserva 904 2010 is a legend amongst legends.
The winery itself states, “We consider this vintage one of the best of the century. The reasons are very propitious weather allowing the vines to be in excellent condition, both in terms of development and health-wise, and very moderate production due to some shatter during flowering. The result was very loose, medium-sized clusters with small berries. This vintage can be classified as one of the most Atlantic in recent years, allowing for wines of great freshness and complexity, optimal for long barrel aging. This vintage was officially rated Excellent as well.”
And the wine backs it up, deep, darkly-hued for this cuvee, powerful, redolent of black fruits, spice, tightly coiled at almost 10 years old, still an infant, the blend of 90% Tempranillo and 10% Graciano, aged in all older oak barrels, from these 60+ year-old vines really delivering the goods.
As Wine Advocate’s Luis Gutierrez so jubilantly states, “It seems like yesterday when the superb 2001 was released, and now I already have the 2010 Gran Reserva 904 in my glass. It has to be among the greatest modern time vintages of this mythical bottling, where they aim for a wine that has a long aging potential. This is mostly Tempranillo with 10% Graciano and 13.5% alcohol, and it matured in fourth-used American oak barrels for four years, during which time the wine was racked every six months. It has the combination of elegance and power only the best vintages are capable of, with the classical aromas, great detail and nuance, very good balance and persistence. They consider 2010 among the best years of this century, and maybe future generations will talk about 2010 like we talk about the great classical vintages of yesterday today. The palate is polished but shows plenty of energy and tension, the tannins are very fine and elegant, and the flavors are focused and clean. This has to be one of the greatest wines from the vintage. A legend in the making. 96+ Points.”
That’s his highest score for 904 since, yup, you guessed it, the 1964.
And James Suckling’s team marked it as one of the top wines in their recent report of over 2000 Spanish wines tasted, noting, “Fresh blueberries and brambleberries take center stage, which is striking for a wine of this age. There are also lots of roasted herbs, such as sage, not to mention floral elements, including lavender and dried violets. Then come cedar, sandalwood and tar. The tannins are incredibly round and soft, without the slightest hint of anything dry. This is among the most elegant of Riojas, where the acidity is wonderfully pronounced and cuts right through any touch of dried fruit. Long and powerful, yet subtle on the finish. Drink now, or hold for a very long time. 98 points.”
It’s just business as usual at one of the world’s greatest wineries. By the way, we’ve been lucky enough to enjoy a bottle of that 1964 904 and if this wine is anywhere near that epic bottle, well, while we’re not prone to hyperbole I would encourage case purchases of this modern-day Rioja legend…