La Rioja Alta Rioja Gran Reserva 904 2011
JS96: Lovely dried red fruit, such as plums with just a hint of prunes. Cedar, walnut and leather undertones. Full-bodied with lots of fruit, considering its age, as well as hints of smoke, tobacco, bark and black tea. Some balsamic at the finish. Traditionally styled with lovely results.
VM94: The 2011 Rioja Gran Reserva 904 has been one of my go-to cuvées since my earliest days as a wine lover. This latest release is a blend of 60-year-old Tempranillo from Briñas, Rodenzo and Villalba (89%) and the remainder Graciano from the Montecillo vineyard. Fully de-stemmed and aged for 54 months in American oak, it was bottled in November 2016. This is more reticent and less forthcoming on the nose compared to the Viña Ardanza, gradually unfolding to reveal enticing scents of raspberry, crushed strawberry, warm leather, terra cotta and a touch of meat juice. This needed more decanting than the Ardanza. The palate is beautifully balanced with fine-grained tannins, and ultra-smooth in terms of texture. Layers of red fruit laced with clove, sprigs of fresh mint and blood orange dovetail into a soy-tinged finish that you expect to fan out, though it declines; it needs maybe another 12–18 months to really show what it is capable of. Magnificent.