Alta Rioja 904: vintages 2005, 2007, 2009 and 2010.


Still brimming with youth and vitality, all three wines show bright, deep ruby colour with a tight brown rim. On the nose, 2007 shows the purity of cherry and plum fruit, compared to the dark red-fruit and floral pastille flavours of the riper 2005 vintage. 2009 fruit is as mature as if not even riper than that of 2005. Its aromatics profile(superlative dark fruit, Christmas pudding, also pastille) is similar. 2010 gives spicy and balsamic notes of tobacco leaves. Alos cedar, liquorice, vanilla, chocolate and ground coffee. Looming more extensive than the little classic, peculiar red fruit profile, yet it is so balanced with fine tannins. Being awarded the highest score in a roll re these 4 wines(JS98, RP96+, Tim Atkins 97 etc)., it is the wine to keep for some time.

The 2007 secondary and tertiary tones hint leather and meat and notes from a spice cabinet reminiscent of nutmeg, clove and cinnamon. 2005 shows vanilla and potpourri. These tones followed by cedar, balsamic, lively citrus fruit and tea. There also come notes of camphor, hints of mint, leather and hung game/smoke meat wrapped around a core of cherries in liqueur. 2009 has plenty of spices, balsamic aromas and has even more power. On the other hand, 2010 gives the most tertiary and savoury nose and taste.

All four vintages do not make a significant entry. On the palate, they are polished and harmonious. The traditional red offers dried berry, vanilla, tobacco and spice flavours, with light, firm tannins and lively acidity, and all these testify a sort of classic Riserva Rioja. However, once the seat-belt fastened, this modest and understated palate rockets great concentration which accentuates tasty, mineral, 4almost salty favours framed by ultra-fine tannins and balance. All are of very high scores(2005 RP96; 2007 WS97; 2009 RP95, 2010 RP96+).

Tasting La Rioja Alta 904 2010, 2009, 2007 and 2005 is going to be a roller coaster trip; this classic, old-school Rioja destined for a long, graceful evolution. A great Contrasts to the other Riojas from the same winery.

At this quality level, all three wines give a high cost-performance. The Gran Reserva 904 is a superb blend of 90% Tempranillo and 10% Graciano from several villages. Vines are like over 40 years old. Grapes are destemmed, crushed and fermented in stainless steel in the traditional method for 18 days at 25 C before spontaneous malolactic fermentation lasted 38 days. These wines used American oak barrels following the most strict Riojan tradition and manually racked eight times(2 times a year). There are very little filtrations with its natural character maintained — an extended bottle ageing before market release, hence quite some complexities.

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