Arguably one of the most famous names in Rioja, if not the whole wine world is La Rioja Alta. Founded in 1890 when five families from Rioja and Basque joined to use their combined knowledge and vineyards to make outstanding wines.
Present day and La Rioja Alta evolve their passion year by year through pairing age-old traditions and wisdom with the most modern wine making technology. Having their own cooperage ensures that all the wood that is imported from the USA is made into the highest quality of barrels. The winery is so devoted to the quality of their wine that racking is carried out under candle light, to preserve the purity of the juice.
On 10th July 1890 five vine growers came together to form Sociedad Vinicola de la Rioja Alta. The three key families behind this were the Ardanza's, Arana's and Alberdi's. They hired a French wine expert, Monsieur Vigier, and began a long tradition of 'classic' wine making. In 1891 the company changed its name to La Rioja Alta. The company went from strength to strength and continued to grow and producer more quality wine. In 1952 the winery's first bottling system was installed. Previous to this, bottling was done in the client's facilities! In 2002 the winery began employing its own team of specialised coopers and are today the only Rioja producer to make their own barrels. Today the winery owns properties in Ribera del Duero and Rias Baixas and produce wines of the utmost quality.
The main winery for Rioja is located in the town of Haro in the region of La Rioja Alta. The winery owns some of the best sites throughout the three sub regions of Rioja allowing them to produce a variety of wines and styles. As a producer they also own properties in Rias Baixas and Ribera del Duero. La Rioja Alta own 360ha from which they can source top-quality grapes, resulting in excellent fruit and richness throughout their wines. Tempranillo dominates the plantings, complemented with a small proportion of Garnacha and Graciano vines.
La Rioja Alta is one of the most established and respected wineries in Spain. Their Rioja wines are classy, elegant and very classic in style. In amongst this however they also produce very modern styles of Rioja at their Baron de Ona estate. All their wines show real character and personality. The company is renowned for the quality of its Reservas and in particular for its Gran Reservas. The main focus of La Rioja Alta is of course their classic and traditional Rioja wines: Alberdi, Arana and Ardanza, named after the three key families who first formed the estate.
Here at the Oxford Wine Company we like to rave about at least three of the wines from La Rioja Alta, here are some of them.
Viña Ardanza Rioja Reserva
Comprising of a blend of 80% Tempranillo and 20% Garnacha which is aged for 36 months, this wine shows off bright red cherry flavours to start, these then develop into classic blackberries, tobacco, sweet spices and caramel notes. A perfect Rioja for hose wanting to discover what premium Riojas have to offer.
Viña Alberdi Rioja Reserva
This 100% Tempranillo is aged in oak for 2 years, the first of which is new American oak. The resulting wine is a very approachable, soft red fruit led wine. Notes of strawberry jam are balanced out with roasted coffee, vanilla and caramel. If an easy going glugger is what you're after, this is your go to.
Gran Reserva 890
Named after the inaugural release from back in 1890 this is the winery's pride and joy. Made only in top vintages this is the pinnacle of what Rioja Alta has to offer. Made with a blend of 95% Tempranillo with the rest being made up by Mazuelo and Graciano, the wine is aged for 6 years in barrel, during which time the best 199 barrels were selected. Aromas of leather, stewed plums and raisins are balanced out by sweet spices, vanilla and dark chocolate.