It’s special when you can find a current release wine in 2017 and the bottle’s vintage is 2010. That means, simply, the winery has held back putting out the wine until the wine has aged properly before you buy it. Doesn’t make the wine automatically great, but that’s one of the joys of stumbling upon a Rioja Reserva that is great, especially for the price, like La Rioja Alta’s 2010 VIÑA ALBERDI Rioja Reserva. Under strict Spanish board regulation, in order for a wine to labeled a “Reserva” it must age in oak cask for at least one year (this Reserva was aged for two) after having aged a minimum of three years. This means Reservas typically have rich depth of flavor with a prominent note of wood that isn’t too overwhelming (the winery uses American oak, so flavor notes imparted are deep, dark and mellow). Having a Spanish Reserva often takes you back to old school. This Viña Alberdi certainly does.
Comprised of 100% Tempranillo (tem-prah-NEE-yo), the classic red grape of the Rioja region, the wine’s nose is Old World stuff—dark spices, oak, ripe currants and cherry juice. On the palate, the juicy flavors of red and dark cherry broadly and gently coax, while notes of caramel, brown baking spices, exotic spices and white pepper come to the fore. The texture of the Tempranillo evokes the characteristic chalky-clay soils of the terroir. It’s all there: the unmistakably rustic Spanish personality. To top it off, there’s also good balance of acidity on the finish.
This is a peek into the window of expensive, prestigious, magisterial Riojas. You can’t compare the experience, but, for the price of an economy seat, this wine still transports you to the unique pleasures of being in a foreign land. –J.M.