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La Rioja Alta 904, vintage 2005

As good as ever, this WA96 noses sappy red fruit and floral pastille flavors, vanilla and potpourri, slotting in cedar balsam, lively citrus fruit and tea, which hare followed by notes of camphor, hints of mint, leather and hung game/smoke meat wrapped around a core of cherries in liqueur. Eloquent.

You see, this wine does not make a big entry. It is polished and harmonious- traditional red offers dried berry, vanilla, tobacco and spice flavors, with light, firm tannins and lively acidity-sort of classic Riserva Rioja. But once the seat-belt is fastened, this modest and understated palate rockets great concentration which accentuates tasty, mineral, almost salty favours framed by ultra-fine tannins and balance. Tasting La Rioja Alta 904 2005 is going to be a roller coaster trip; this classic, old-school Rioja is destined for a long, graceful evolution.

At this quality level this is a bargain.

This 2005 Gran Reserva 904 is a superb blend of 90% Tempranillo and 10% Graciano from several villages. Vines are like over 40 years old. Grapes were destemmed and crushed and fermented in stainless steel for 18 days at 25 C. Malolactic fermentation was spontaneous and lasted 38 days. Using used American oak barrels following the most strict Riojan tradition, wine is manually racked eight times(2 times a year). There are very little filtrations that its natural character is maintained.

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