Expensive wine 109: La Rioja Alta Vina Ardanza Reserva Rioja 2008

La Rioja Alta Viña ArdanzaThe La Rioja Alta Vina Ardanza speaks to terroir, tradition, and quality – and at a more than fair price

Rioja, the Spanish red wine made with tempranillo that comes from the Rioja region of northern Spain, is one of the world’s great wine values. And it doesn’t matter whether you want to spend $10 or $100. Case in point: the La Rioja Alta Vina Ardanza ($37, purchased, 13.5%).

In the past decade, Rioja producers have been caught between Parkerization, which demanded riper, higher alcohol wines for a high score, and traditionalists, who believed in Rioja’s legendary terroir.

The traditionalists won; even Parker likes the La Rioja Alta Viña Ardanza, giving it 93 points.

Their victory is a triumph for everyone who appreciates terroir and making wine taste like where it came from. The blend is 80 percent tempranillo and 20 percent garnacha, and the latter smooths out the tempranillo but doesn’t cover it up. The result is a full, open, expressive, and traditional Rioja that is a joy to drink.

Look for an inviting earthiness, the lovely and telltale orange peel, and rounded cherry fruit, all balanced by a subtle acidity and a hint of tannins. There is even a little baking spice tucked in – the whole is truly greater than the sum of the wine’s parts. This vintage should age and improve for another five years or so, but is ready to drink now.

Highly recommended, and especially as a Father’s Day gift for a red wine drinker who wants something different. Or who appreciates classic wine produced in a classic manner.

4 thoughts on “Expensive wine 109: La Rioja Alta Vina Ardanza Reserva Rioja 2008

  • By Irene Sterling -

    This is one of our favorites. I have watched it double in price as it receives more attention. Bravo!

  • By eric -

    hi, been subscribed to your very useful and entertaining site for a while.

    I love Vina Ardanza as well, have bought it over the years. i’m surprised it cost $37 in Texas (correct me if i’m wrong about the location) since here in NYC stores carry it usually in the $32-35 range. I can buy it for $27+ at one of my fave wine stores (PJ Wine). Wonder how easy/hard it is to find Vina Ardanza over there, if many stores carry it and other La Rioja Alta products??

    • By Wine Curmudgeon -

      One of the many ironies about wine prices in the U.S., Eric, is that prices are typically lower in Manhattan than much of the rest of the country despite the astronomical rents. No one has ever been able to explain that contradiction to me.

      And thanks for the kind words.

  • By eric -

    me again.
    i’m truly perplexed to hear that (prices in Manhattan are lower than much of the rest of the country)…from my experience when I do searches on Wine Searcher usually NYC is 30%+ pricier than the rest of NY state (this is when finding Spanish/Italian/French wines) or NJ…having said that, I haven’t tried to compare with other states outside NJ/NY.

    unfortunately we’re used to paying more for everything in NYC haha, but on the upside we’re spoiled for wine selection. for ex in the past month I’ve bought among others a rose from the Azores, red from Priorat, and the “usual” albarino, Chinon, frappato (a favorite of mine)…maybe one day we’ll get some of the Texan wines!

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