La Rioja Alta, Vina Arana, Gran Reserva from the excellent 2016 vintage

3 August 2023

Trail Blazing Tempranillo

La Rioja Alta is the most luxuriant and hedonistic producer amongst its illustrious peers in Haro; a benchmark for traditionally produced Rioja and famed for their eponymous 890 and 904 brands. Established in 1890, their core Crianza, Reserva and Gran Reserva lines: Alberdi, Ardanza and Arana are named after the founding families, all of whom are still shareholders. The company continues longstanding Rioja winemaking practices whilst embracing many new technological advances.

In the Vina Arana 2016 Gran Reserva, Tempranillo (95%) is the principal variety, hailing from three vineyards in Rodezno: Las Cuevas, El Palo and Las Monjas. It is blended with 5% Graciano from the Montecillo vineyard in Fuenmayor. In March 2017 the wines were put in aged American oak barrels made by in-house coopers where they stayed for three years of elevage, with a traditional six monthly racking. After bottling, the wine is then aged for a further three years prior to release.

2016 was a stellar year for La Rioja Alta; comparisons are already being made with the great 2001 and 2010 vintages. A recent trip to the region presented the opportunity to taste the latest iteration of Arana. Bright, fragrant and spicy, with classical Riojan notes of balsamic, tobacco, ground coffee and cinnamon, the Arana boasts a vibrant and refreshing core of red berries, red currants and black plum, as well as some alluring tertiary aromas of fruit preserve, leather and cigar box. This impeccably made Gran Reserva will appeal to traditionalists and modernists alike – its irresistible flavour profile and immaculate balance makes this a joy to drink now and will no doubt provide much pleasure over the coming decades.

“Great Rioja, as traditional as it gets, in good quantity and moderate (and often plain great) prices.” Luis Gutierrez, the Wine Advocate

“Quite simply, these are some of the finest Riojas that can grace your cellar: complex, refined, classic but without compromising fruit intensity and to reiterate: wines that speak about where they come from.” Neal Martin, The Wine Advocate

“Rioja enjoyed an abundant harvest [in 2016]….Quality is excellent, with modest alcohol, full ripeness, relatively light tannins, good aromatic range and no bitterness. Certainly the best recent vintage.”** Jancis Robinson MW.**

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