Few dispute that La Rioja Alta S.A. is the leading quality orientated producer in the Rioja. With more than 50,000 casks and 6.4 million bottles stored at any one time, the equivalent of about 8 years sales, La Rioja Alta S.A. is unique in its ability to supply large quantities of fully mature wines of world class quality.
The company owns 300 hectares of vineyards in different parts of the best zones of the Rioja Alta region. La Rioja Alta S.A. is specialized in red wines. The leading grape variety is the Tempranillo with small doses of Mazuelo and Graciano. The Vina Ardanza differs from the other wines with some 25% Garnacha in the blend. After vinification in the new ultra modern vinification plant near Haro, aging is in traditional Bordeaux casks, all made from American oak. Racking is by hand every 6 months with 8 teams working full time racking the 51,000 casks. There is no filtration prior to bottling and further long aging in bottle before release.
In short the wines are made in the traditional Rioja manner. The company is adamant about not using French oak, keeping the unique Rioja style which has been developed since the end of the 19th century. In spite of the varying amount of time in cask and bottle the wines all display a wonderful rich ruby colour, gorgeous aromas of oak, spices and fruit followed by a sensational feel on the palate, with a wonderful smooth texture, clean rich oaky/fruity flavours and a long lingering finish. All the wines are ready for consumption on release but will keep for many more years in bottle. This situation is almost unique in the world of wine and is the reason why so many restaurants list La Rioja Alta’s outstanding range of truly classic Rioja wines. Practicing Organic.
The basic grape variety is Tempranillo (95%) from Las Cuevas, El Palo and Las Monjas vineyards in Rodezno complemented with 5% Graciano from the Montecillo estate in Fuenmayor. We started the grape harvest with the Tempranillo and, 17 days later, we picked the Graciano in Montecillo, the last plot we harvested. All the grapes were placed in small boxes and taken to the winery in refrigerated transport to preserve their integrity. Alcoholic fermentation took place in tanks, taking 16 days for the Tempranillo and 18 days for the Graciano. Malolactic fermentation took place spontaneously and, in March 2013, the selected wines were transferred to American oak barrels (made in-house) with an average age of 3 years. During the three years the wines were aged, they were racked every six months. The final blend was made in March 2016, combining both varieties until that magnificent balance that sets the first Viña Arana Gran Reserva apart was attained.
La Rioja Alta Vina Arana Rioja Gran Reserva 2014 has lots of mushroom and walnut aromas with plum and leather, too. It’s full-bodied, but very soft and creamy-textured with lots of old wood, mushroom and ripe fruit on the finish. Some chocolate and hazelnut. Complex and gorgeous. Drink or hold.