La Rioja Alta 2020

the greatest reserva and gran reserva bottlings from classic veteran producers like Muga, Lopez de Heredia, La Rioja Alta and CVNE number among the world's most aromatically complex, food-friendly wines-wines that can truly stand comparison to the top Bordeaux and Burgundies. STEPHEN TANZER

La Rioja Alta is one of the grand old bodegas of Rioja, based, as the name suggests, in the Rioja Alta subregion. If styles of fine rioja can today be split into classical and modern (and ‘new wave’, but that’s another story), then the La Rioja Alta brand sits squarely in the classical category. TIM JACKSON MW, JancisRobinson.com

Rioja Alta succeeds in making high-quality, traditional Rioja wines. These are not flashy wines in the modern mould, but they are benchmark examples of the typical Rioja style, with real complexity and interest JAMIE GOODE, Wine Anorak
 
Never ignore the classics, they are there for a reason and that reason is usually because they’re fundamentally exceptional.  Whilst the wine world is evolving at an exciting pace, producers like La Rioja Alta continue to do what they have always done.  Make great wine.

The companies roots date back to 1890 when five families formed the Sociedad Vinicola de la Rioja Alta. This was not long after the French Wine Industry had been ravaged by phylloxera and they saw an opportunity for top quality Rioja to step in on the global stage as a suitable replacement for fine Bordeaux.

They are unquestionably one of the most important producers in Rioja, farming 410 hectares of vines in the Rioja Alta sub region, of which they own 360 Hectares. They are by no means a small producer which makes their dedication to craft quite remarkable.

Grapes are hand harvested and transported in refrigerated trucks to the winery, where the wines are fermented and aged in American oak for long periods depending on the cuvee.  More than 50,000 bordeaux sized casks and 6.4 million bottles are being stored on site at any one time.  As an illustration to the time invested at La Rioja Alta, most of their wines are aged in oak for 2 to 3 years, with each barrel being racked by hand every six months by 8 teams of full-time workers.

The long ageing process means that wines are released mature and ready to drink. Having said that these styles of Rioja can continue to age wonderfully for years.  There has been numerous situations in my wine life where very old Rioja has been the dark horse at a serious wine dinner or tasting. PWS