Gran Reserva 904 – Vintage 1997
The Rioja QDO
The winter was characterized by more than the usual rainfall and gentle temperatures, so the growth cycle started a month early. Budding was excellent, with more buds and more bunches than the previous year. The vineyard was in a very good condition at the end of spring: plenty of foliage and around two weeks ahead of a normal cycle. In general, the setting process was good, although somewhat irregular, so we were optimistic about crop volume. Although the growth cycle was advanced, the atypical summer weather, with more rainfall and lower temperatures than usual, had a negative impact on the ripening process. Overdeveloped foliage had to be reduced repeatedly by nipping and the removal of secondary shoots. September brought stable good, dry and sunny weather in which the ripening process was completed.
The vineyard and the grapes
The base variety is tempranillo (90%) from Briñas, Labastida and Villalba, plus 10% of graciano from Melchorón I and II, Briones and Rodezno.
Alcoholic fermentation took 12 days, and it was transferred to stainless steel vats 5 days later, where natural malolactic fermentation took place over a 35-day period. The wine was transferred to casks in March, 1998 and racked manually in the traditional manner, every 6 months for 4 years. It was bottled in April, 2002. In order to preserve its organoleptic features as intact as possible, it was only subjected to a gentle filtration process, so it may produce sediment with age.
Typical red colour, with brick tones on the edge of the glass. Medium robe, clear and brilliant. Long, penetrating and complex bouquet, with hints of spices, balsam and old leather against a background of ripe fruit. Well-structured to the palate, with silky, rich tannins, ending with some acidity so this wine will keep well. Excellent aftertaste, with persistent balsamic and spicy hints. Excellent with main dishes and chocolate desserts.
Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate – “The 1997 Gran Reserva 904 has a slightly aged appearance with its brick-colored rim. Fragrant and complex due to the tertiary aromas from extended time in cask and bottle age, on the palate it is silky, elegant, and beautifully balanced. Its sweet fruit seems to go on and own with no rough edges to be found. It can be enjoyed now but will provide pleasure for another decade. La Rioja Alta continues to be one of the benchmarks for traditionally produced Rioja.” 06/09 (93 Pts)
Stephen Tanzer’s International Wine Cellar – “Bright red. Seductively perfumed nose offers a complex bouquet of dried cherry, vanilla, cola, potpourri, smoky minerals and cedar. Silky red berry and cherry flavors are sweetened by vanilla bean and take on tannic structure with air. Becomes deeper and riper on the impressively long, sweet, lightly chewy finish, which strongly echoes the cherry and vanilla qualities. I’d serve this with strongly seasoned grilled steak or lamb.” 08/08 (92 Pts)