2011 Imperial - Rioja's "excellent" vintage

Much has been written off about the 2011 vintage around Europe, off the back of the exceptional 2010 harvest which offered quality and aging potential. There were two notable exceptions that exceeded the previous vintage – the successful Ports and beautifully precise Riojas. The 2011 vintage has been rated amongst the top three vintages in the last 30 years by the DOC Rioja’s Regulating Council and has been given an “excellent” level. During the growing season, Rioja experienced the hottest April in 50 years and the vine stress was palpable. It was exceptionally dry, no rain fell from July until October but because of precipitation from the winter and early spring there were enough reserves to stop the vines from becoming dried out.

For Imperial, the manual selection in the in the vineyard and winery was intensive and yields were certainly lower than the previous four years. The style of Imperial is above all freshness and this wine is a delight to approach over the next five years or hold for the next thirty. Imperial has been making wine since 1920 on a 28 hectare vineyard in Rioja Alta and has a long history with the English markets – the name Imperial comes from a glass given to the winemakers called “Imperial Pint” but they thankfully dropped the pint!

This is the latest in a series of brilliant Imperial Gran Reservas: serious, dense and showing old vine concentration, with sweet liquorice, blackberry and bramble flavours, a lick of oak and chalky intensity. 96 points, Tim Atkin. Drinking window 2020 - 2035

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