2001 La Rioja Alta "Viña Ardanza" Reserva Especial Rioja
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate
The 2001 Vina Ardanza Reserva Especial is a blend of 80% Tempranillo and 20% Garnacha from their vineyards in Fuenmayor and Rioja Baja respectively and it represents only the third vintage to be declared after 1964 and 1973. Aged in American cask for 36 months, it has a bucolic, natural bouquet of bright red cherries, balsamic, mint and a touch of dried honey all with superb delineation. The palate is medium-bodied with wonderful delineation and supple, lithe tannins. The acidity is very well judged and it leads to a pert, tense finish of bitter cherry, loganberry and licorice. This is an outstanding wine drinking perfectly now, but it should age effortlessly. Drink now-2030.
Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar
Deep red. Sexy, intensely perfumed bouquet of ripe raspberry and cherry with suggestions of potpourri, sandalwood and vanilla. Shows more power and darker fruits on the palate, picking up a touch of singed plum that adds a serious quality to the sweet black raspberry and cherry flavors without costing the wine any of its vibrancy. The long, sweet finish hangs on with very good tenacity.
La Rioja Alta makes some of the very finest wines in all of the region: Arana Reserva, Gran Reserva 904, Gran Reserva 890. It has always been the Ardanza, though, which I've enjoyed the most. It is consistent, always elegant, and just a terrifically balanced, classic Rioja. In the very best vintages, La Rioja Alta designates Ardanza as a "Reserva Especial"; this has only happened two other times, in 1964 and 1973. I have not had the '64, but I did recently taste the '73 and it was superb. Yep, this is a $30 wine which ages gracefully for more than three decades. An incredible wine, and in a time where there is no shortage of wine or deals, this is the real deal, and a genuine bargain. (Joe Manekin, K&L Spanish Wine Buyer)