2005 La Rioja Alta "904" Gran Reserva Rioja

SKU #1242516 96 points Wine Advocate

Outer quote mark The 2005 Gran Reserva 904 is a superb blend of Tempranillo from the villages of Briñas, Labastida and Villalba with 10% Graciano from Briones and Rodezno. The grapes were destemmed and crushed and fermented in stainless steel for 18 days at 25 C. Malolactic fermentation was spontaneous and lasted 38 days. These wines are marked by a long aging in used American oak barrels following the most strict Riojan tradition; four years during which time the wine was manually racked eight times. This is usually my favorite wine from La Rioja Alta and 2005 is one of its best showings, going back to the quality of the vintages of the 1950s and 60s. The nose is very balsamic with notes of camphor, hints of mint, leather and hung game wrapped around a core of cherries in liqueur. Together it is balanced, subtle, truly elegant and classical. The palate is only medium-bodied but with great concentration of flavors that are very tasty, mineral, almost salty and framed by ultra-fine tannins and smashing balance. A great classic. This wine will be released in October 2015, a full ten years after the vintage. At this quality level this is a bargain. (LG) Inner quote mark (4/2015)

96 points Wine Enthusiast

Outer quote mark One look, one whiff, one taste and you're swooning. This mature, tawny, ready-to-drink gran reserva with aromas of lemon peel, cedar and dried cherry is the epitome of elegance. A juicy, supple palate is highly approachable, while flavors of vanilla, orange peel, saffron and dried plum don't waver on the finish. *#1 Top Wine of 2016* (MS) Inner quote mark (4/2016)

95 points James Suckling

Outer quote mark Aromas of pine needles, ginger, red fruits and cedar. Mushroom too, plus bark and mint. Complex. Full body, ultra fine tannins and a tangy and bright finish. Makes you want to drink it. Made from 90% Tempranillo with 10% Graciano from 40+ year-old vineyards in the Briñas, Labastida, and Villalba. Inner quote mark (7/2015)

94 points Vinous

Outer quote mark Bright ruby-red. Complex, intensely perfumed bouquet of candied cherry, vanilla, mocha, cured tobacco and spicecake, with a suave potpourri note becoming stronger in the glass. Offers sweet, penetrating cherry-cola and lavender pastille flavors complicated by hints of smoky minerals and candied licorice. The long, subtly tannic finish delivers noteworthy energy and focus, leaving suave spicecake and cherry liqueur notes behind. (JR) Inner quote mark (11/2015)

93 points Wine & Spirits

Outer quote mark A cellar selection from close to 20 estate parcels in Rioja Alta where the vines are at least 40 years old, this was bottled at the end of 2010, after aging in four-year-old barrels (La Rioja Alta changed its aging regime in 2001, shifting from longer aging in 15-year-old barrels to a shorter time in younger barrels). The firm makes its own barrels, from staves they age in-house, which may account for the finesse of the oak influence on this wine, and the cushioned gentleness of its texture. The fruit selection would account for its tremendous length of flavor, a combination of fruitiness and earthiness that parallels what you might find in a truffle. Delicate and luscious, this is a pleasure to drink now, though the reason to buy this wine is for the way it will taste and how the texture will feel in another five to 15 years. Inner quote mark (12/2016)

92 points Wine Spectator

Outer quote mark This old-school red delivers dried cherry, floral, licorice and leather flavors in a smooth texture, supported by light, firm tannins and orange peel acidity. The flavors are harmonious, the finish long and juicy. (TM) Inner quote mark (10/2015)

90 points Decanter

Outer quote mark It’s rare to see mature wine at this price tag; it is even rarer at this quality. Rated as an exceptional vintage, this 2005 is showing beautiful development with notes of sweet red cherry followed by a sweet spice and leather bouquet. While it is a powerful wine, it is also quite restrained and elegant thanks to the refreshing acidity, the subtle vanilla notes and the well-integrated tannins. This is the perfect match for roast lamb or even roasted game birds. (CG) Inner quote mark (10/2016)

Jancis Robinson

Outer quote mark Smoky, creamy, mature nose with a musty, dusty aroma. Black cherry and vanilla on the palate with plenty of primary intensity that could age a long time. Consistently one of the most impressive Riojas. *Good Value* 17.5/20 points. (RH) Inner quote mark (10/2016)

K&L Notes

Many folks are very much aware of the La Rioja Alta "Viña Ardanza" bottling. In contrast to the Ardanza, the "904" contains Tempranillo and Graciano (no Garnacha) and is every bit as traditional. It sees aging in used American oak barrels for 48 months, racking twice a year, and then further aging in bottle. The wine always has a sumptuous, velvety texture, with more bass notes in place of Ardanza's higher toned, red-fruited profile, and a lovely, meaty savor to the wine. 96 points Tim Atkins: "A typically complex, age-worthy blend of Tempranillo with 10% Graciano, this is mostly sourced from cooler sites conferring higher acidity. It more than lives up to the excellent quality of the vintage, with plenty of red fruits, subtle oak, fine tannins, a balsamic undertone, and a long, stylish, savoury finish. This will go the distance." (12/2015)

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Product Reviews:

By: Ivan Diaz | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: 2/23/2016 | Send Email
The "904" by La Rioja Alta is one of the best Gran Reservas you will find in the United States. It is a perfect example of a traditional winemaking style majestically manifested in a bottle of wine. Having spent at least 3 years in barrel and 2 years in bottle (longer considering this one is already 10 years old) the flavors of a lovingly aged wine show through with precision and balance. Black and red berries, herbs, mushrooms, and anise persist from the nose to the palate where it picks up subtle notes of olive tapenade, black pepper, zesty minerality, and bright, playful acidity. This drinks with plenty of character now, but will continue to age for at least another 10 years. If you open it tonight, though, let it breathe, and then drink it tomorrow.

By: Illya Haase | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: 2/23/2016 | Send Email
Oh, the magic of Rioja! If I was trapped on a deserted island and I could have only one wine to drink it would be Rioja. This bottle is such a quintessential showing of old school Rioja. It just jumps out of the glass from the beginning. The nose is delicate and intense at the same time. Coffee, leather, crushed floral, vanilla and mineral-driven red fruit. That is just the nose. The palate is full-bodied with crisp acidity slicing through the pure blackberry and cassis fruit. Don't forget the super long finish. This wine is built for the long haul. What a pleasure it was to sit back and enjoy with short ribs and polenta.

By: Diana Turk | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: 2/21/2016 | Send Email
Gorgeous, almost plummy, nose with aromatics of mint and cedar, this 2005 shows more kirsch than 2004 but retains that velvety texture and subtle leather of La Rioja Alta’s always lovely 904. Oak and soft vanilla on the finish with baked fruit and spice throughout, this is a balanced, classic Rioja at an astounding price for the quality.

By: Randy Hagerman | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: 2/19/2016 | Send Email
Every so often in the wine world a perfect marriage of vintage and producer comes along. The 2005 "904" Gran Reserva from La Rioja Alta is exactly that! The aromas of leather, red cherries, tobacco, spice, and licorice are simply divine. The palate is full bodied, perfectly balanced, and finishes with textbook Rioja acidity. This wine is an instant classic! Stock up because it won't last long in our inventory.

By: Joe Manekin | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: 2/17/2016 | Send Email
This is a great 904! I prefer it to the 2004, and for those who opt to drink these "young" at 10 years of age, I think it's even better than the landmark 2001 vintage. To encounter a wine this subtle, layered, harmonious and ageworthy for under $100 these days, let alone for under $50, is a rarity to be sure. I would take advantage and let only your budget and space constraints guide you. And if you enjoy great Rioja, you will want to own as many of these as you can get.

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