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PRODUCER

LA RIOJA ALTA

Formed by five families in the late 19th century, La Rioja Alta has been among the leading producers who have established and maintained the style and standards of Rioja. It’s best known for its Tempranillo-led Gran Reservas, aged for remarkably long periods in barrels from the producer’s own cooperage. La Rioja Alta wines are exclusively distributed in the UK by Armit Wines…
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Image of wine Viña Arana Reserva
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“The Viña Arana 2009 is a wine with that smooth, polished red colour typical of classic Riojas. Clean and bright in the glass, with light orange notes on the rim. Outstandingly intense nose, with light balsamic tertiary aromas of tobacco, caramel, incense and spices against a background of ripe fruit. Consistent and well-balanced in the mouth, with fine, elegant...

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Image of wine Viña Ardanza
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The nose opens with warm earthy tones. Appealing spice sits alongside dried peel notes and hightoned fruit over a hint of leather The fruit is forward, and a touch juicier than in the past, underpinned by the same spicy notes found on the nose. A keen freshness knits everything together and the balance of this wine is impeccable. Drink from...

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2008 Viña Ardanza, La Rioja Alta

Bottle 75cl £25.00

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The best classic style of Garnacha and Tempranillo pulling together joyful fruit expression and serious depth. In the mouth it is amazingly complex, and unique. A benchmark Rioja blend.
95 points, Pedro Ballesteros Torres MW

The nose opens with warm earthy tones. Appealing spice sits alongside dried peel notes and hightoned fruit over a hint of...

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2008 Viña Ardanza, La Rioja Alta

Magnum 150cl £50.00

Image of wine Viña Ardanza
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2007 Viña Ardanza, La Rioja Alta

Bottle 37.5cl £14.30

Image of wine Viña Arana Reserva
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Image of wine Viña Ardanza
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2008 Viña Ardanza, La Rioja Alta

Bottle 37.5cl £15.00

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Image of wine Viña Alberdi Reserva
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2005 Marques de Haro

La Rioja Alta

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Bottle 75cl £69.14

Image of wine Marques de Haro
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Very bright cherry red colour, with a medium-high robe. Fresh and clean to the nose, with hints of ripe berries (blackberries and gooseberries), roasting and tobacco. After agitating the glass, they give way to hints of walnuts, cinnamon and sweet liquorice. Direct on the palate, with a good balance between alcohol and acidity; marked tannins leave an elegant aftertaste with...

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2007 Viña Alberdi Reserva

La Rioja Alta

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Bottle 37.5cl £9.62

Image of wine Viña Alberdi Reserva
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2010 Viña Alberdi Reserva

La Rioja Alta

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Bottle 37.5cl £10.00

Case of 12 £120.00

Magnum 150cl

Single bottle£37.20

Case of 6 £223.18

Image of wine Viña Alberdi Reserva
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2008 Viña Arana Reserva

La Rioja Alta

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Bottle 75cl £22.30

Bottle 37.5cl

Single bottle£13.00

Case of 12 £156.00

Image of wine Viña Arana Reserva
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2009 Viña Arana Reserva

La Rioja Alta

In Stock

Bottle 75cl £22.30

Case of 6 £133.80

Bottle 37.5cl

Single bottle£13.00

Case of 12 £156.00

Image of wine Viña Arana Reserva
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TASTING NOTES

“The Viña Arana 2009 is a wine with that smooth, polished red colour typical of classic Riojas. Clean and bright in the glass, with light orange notes on the rim. Outstandingly intense nose, with light balsamic tertiary aromas of tobacco, caramel, incense and spices against a background of ripe fruit. Consistent and well-balanced in the mouth, with fine, elegant...

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2006 Viña Arana Reserva

La Rioja Alta

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Bottle 37.5cl £12.06

Case of 12 £144.60

Image of wine Viña Arana Reserva
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2009 Viña Arana Reserva

La Rioja Alta

In Stock

Bottle 37.5cl £13.00

Case of 12 £156.00

Bottle 75cl

Single bottle£22.30

Case of 6 £133.80

Image of wine Viña Arana Reserva
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2008 Viña Arana Reserva

La Rioja Alta

In Stock

Bottle 37.5cl £13.00

Case of 12 £156.00

Bottle 75cl

Single bottle£22.30

Image of wine Viña Arana Reserva
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2005 Viña Arana Reserva

La Rioja Alta

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Bottle 37.5cl £13.00

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2007 Viña Ardanza

La Rioja Alta

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Bottle 37.5cl £14.30

Case of 12 £171.60

Image of wine Viña Ardanza
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2007 Viña Ardanza, La Rioja Alta

Bottle 37.5cl £14.30

2008 Viña Ardanza

La Rioja Alta

In Stock

Bottle 37.5cl £15.00

Case of 12 £180.00

Magnum 150cl

Single bottle£50.00

Case of 6 £299.98

Bottle 75cl

Single bottle£25.00

Case of 12 £299.98

Image of wine Viña Ardanza
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2008 Viña Ardanza, La Rioja Alta

Bottle 37.5cl £15.00

2003 Viña Alberdi Reserva

La Rioja Alta

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Bottle 75cl £15.14

Case of 12 £181.54

Image of wine Viña Alberdi Reserva
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Red cherries, wild strawberries and spice on the nose with a note of balsamic. Full-bodied, rich red cherry flavours with cinnamon spice and licorice. Rounded and smooth and with a long finish.

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In 1895, five enterprising families in Rioja Alta came together to form a company which would take local Spanish winemaking to an altogether higher level. Responding to the phylloxera crisis in Bordeaux, the families realised that, by banding together, they could offer a commercially viable way of filling the gap in supply of complex, well-structured red wines, based at a bodega in Haro’s Barrio de la Estación - the station quarter, which made export by rail fast and efficient.

Over the following decades, the Sociedad Vinícola de La Rioja Alta established and maintained the characteristics of what have become classic Riojas- particularly bright fruit and long oak ageing. Gradually, the company took control of every aspect of winemaking, not only controlling the winemaking and maturation but acquiring their own cooperage and bottling facility and, by the 1970s, instead of buying the bulk of their grapes from small growers, vinifying their own fruit.

La Rioja Alta takes oak very seriously. At the beginning, the company acquired French oak, as thousands of barrels were sitting empty in Bordeaux, with no wine being produced to fill them. Nowadays, La Rioja Alta imports American oak and dries it for two years before its craftsmen construct barrels by hand at the cooperage in Haro. Every six months, the wine is racked - again by hand, and under candlelight, in order to disturb the wine as little as possible.

Not that upholding standards and tradition means that La Rioja Alta’s philosophy is one of conservatism. From the start, the company was prepared to break conventions. Its first president was a woman - Doña Saturnina García Cid y Gárate - and its first cellar master a Frenchman, Albert Vigier. These days, in addition to Haro, there is also a state-of-the-art winery at Labastida, with a serious research and development division - as you might expect when the chief winemaker, Julio Sáenz, originally qualified as a pharmaceutical chemist. The new winery doesn’t have the history of the original bodega in the traditional heart of Rioja, but it is a beautiful stone building, with the fermentation tanks covered by a wooden floor, their steel lids poking out for inspection. Over 125-plus years, La Rioja Alta has evolved without losing its identity.

Indeed, the first wine produced by Vigier was the Reserva 1890, the predecessor of today’s Gran Reserva 890. Another Reserva - the 1904, which celebrated the year when one of the investors, Daniel Alfredo Ardanza y Sánchez, merged his own Ardanza winery with the Sociedad - lives on in the Gran Reserva 904. Both of these retain remarkably vigorous fruit despite (typically) five or six years in oak.

It is too simple to say that the Gran Reserva 890 contains Tempranillo, Mazuelo and Graciano; the Gran Reserva 904, Tempranillo and Graciano. The Rioja Alta region has such varied soil - some limestone, some clay, others iron-rich, still more stony and sparse. When this is added to the company’s parcels in Rioja Baja and Alavesa, it means that Julio has a great palette to paint with. He can take grapes from Finca Las Cuevas in Rodezno (Alta), Finca La Cuesta in Cenicero (Alavesa) and La Pedriza in Tudelilla (Baja), which are each fermented separately, and apply his great skill, which is in blending.

In addition to the Gran Reservas noting important dates in its history, La Rioja Alta also commemorates three of the founding families in Viña Ardanza, Viña Alberdi and Viña Arana. The most renowned is Viña Ardanza, a wine which is oak-aged long enough - the Tempranillo for 36 months, the Garnacha for 30, to retain freshness and aroma - to qualify as a Gran Reserva but for La Rioja Alta’s standards only qualifies as a Reserva (apart from in exceptional vintages such as 2001, when it becomes Especial).

La Rioja Alta has expanded beyond the bounds of its own province, and acquired wineries in other parts of Spain. In Rías Baixas, on the Galician coast, it owns Lagar de Cervera. The pretty winery on the banks of the Tamuxe river is a lovely, relaxed place to visit, and produces a fragrant Albariño with a fine balance of minerality and stone fruits. Along with La Rioja Alta’s Reservas and Gran Reservas, wines from Lagar de Cervera winery and two others owned by La Rioja Alta - Torre d’Ona in Rioja (read more here) and Aster in Ribera del Duero (read more here) are imported to the UK exclusively by Armit Wines.

Telephone: +44 (0) 20 7908 0655 web@armitwines.co.uk

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