La Rioja Alta was founded by five families at the end of the 19th century and is still run by their descendants today. They are one of the last bastions of the traditional style of Rioja having been producing wine for over 125 years. Indeed, ‘904’ marks the date of this wine’s first vintage.
Gran Reserva 904 2010 is a blend Tempranillo (90%) from vines over 60 years old planted in Briñas, Labastida and Villalba, and Graciano (10%) from the Montecillo vineyard in the municipality of Fuenmayor. The grapes were collected in boxes and transported to the winery in refrigerated vehicles to preserve all their integrity. After gentle destemming and crushing, the musts were put in stainless steel tanks where they underwent alcoholic fermentation at a controlled temperature for 18 days. Batches were selected and allowed to complete malolactic fermentation naturally over 94 days. In March 2011, the wine was transferred to 4-year-old American oak barrels (made in-house), where it stayed until March 2015. During aging, the wine was racked by candlelight every six months using traditional barrel-to- barrel methods. The final blend was bottled in July 2015.
The 2010 vintage has already been widely praised in Rioja, with the Wine Advocate’s Luis Gutiérrez describing it as “very balanced, great [potential”, while Josh Reynolds of Vinous Media called it “outstanding.” This is particularly true of the 904. Head winemaker Julio Sáenz says “the 2010 vintage, rated Excellent, is considered the second best vintage of this century. The influence of the Atlantic was significant throughout the season, producing highly aromatic, complex wines with an extraordinary balance and integration. They are very typical in the Rioja Alta subzone. From my point of view, the expression of the Gran Reserva 904 in 2010 has been enhanced at different levels; the vivacious acidity intensifies the wine and gives it an outstanding ageing potential, while the aromatics are particularly expressive, perfectly combining flavours from the fruit, barrel age, and time in bottle. Gran Reserva 904 2010 has an endless finish, one of the best vintages ever for this wine. My passion, combined with all the above, has produced a wine true to the signature of La Rioja Alta S.A, which has been producing great wines since 1890.”
This wine is a manifestation of La Rioja Alta’s combination of historic techniques and cutting-edge development. The grapes are sorted first by hand in the vineyard, and then by an optical laser-guided machine that individually assesses hundreds of berries per second. The state-of-the-art winery at Labastida houses a serious research and development division, led by the chief winemaker Julio Sáenz, who originally qualified as a pharmaceutical chemist. Julio is now also supported by Alejandro Lopez, who was described by Pedro Ballesteros MW in Decanter Magazine as “a key figure and reference in the new generation of winemakers who set trends in our country.”