Usually the top wine from any property should be the best. However, individual tastes decide the favourite.
I belong to a generation that were able to buy great Rioja...the 60's and early 70's...lovely soft vanilla aged gems. I remember spending a holiday in north Spain...where a restaurant had a ladder up to the bottles placed in the wall. I got to be a regular and was allowed to climb up to chose my choice for the evening. Not only so many goodies...but also reasonably priced. Rioja winemakers became greedy in the 80's...stretching the wines to make more. They got back on track in the 90's and the style split...the traditional version and the new technique.
One property that kept the old style was La Rioja Alta. Viña Ardanza Reserva was a regular house wine for many years. The next one up in quality was the Gran Reserva 904...for the special occasion.
Now we get to the nitty gritty of this post. For the very special occasion we would try a bottle of the Gran Reserva 890. Even back then...I was not the biggest fan. The wine should have been my favourite...but never was.
So...ordering a mixed case...I added a bottle of the 890. It was not a very special occasion. Those days are gone. A great bottle on a Tuesday and a glass of water on Saturday if you get my thread. Every day is special.
La Rioja Alta
Gran Reserva 890 2005
The wine is a mix of Tempranillo (95%), Graciano (3%) and Mazuelo, produced from their own old vines that are more than 40 years old and planted in the Riojan town of Rodezno. It spends 72 months in American oak barrels, 20% new... and here lies my problem.
Much as I love the style...I always find the 890 has a touch too much dryness.
Nose to me is always more Bordeaux-like. Vanilla aromas. Mocca and cassis. A balsamic bite. Dominant acidity. Don't tell me I need to lay it down...it is over 15 years old. In no way a bad wine...it is just that we don't gel.
The food was more Italian then Spanish.
Bruschetta followed by Black Carbonara.