TN: 2001 La Rioja Alta Rioja Viña Ardanza Reserva Especial

  • 2001 La Rioja Alta Rioja Viña Ardanza Reserva Especial - Spain, La Rioja, La Rioja Alta, Rioja (12/7/2012)
    Friday, December 07, 2012 - Good lord this is lathered in American oak. This wine absolutely wears it on its sleeve…lots of dill, coconut, watered down vanilla, some rubber tire, fairly high acidity…years ago I would probably love this, but the oak hides all of the Tempranillo grape…I like this house, but it appears they over did it with this one in '01…the oak will always dominate the grape characteristics in this wine…a shame

Posted from CellarTracker

Hate to hear that as I was diapointed with my first btl a year or so ago. I was underwhelmed and have been holding off on other 2. I’m a Lopez Herdia and expected to love this too.


I just ordered a few of the 94 and 95’s. Here’s hoping that the oak integrates with further time. I don’t think I’ve had these wines for over 30 years, but I do remember them fondly from way back then as affordable wines that had some age on release.

There have been several different threads on this:

I had three or four bottles in the first year after release, including several tasted blindly. Some were extremely oaky; others not. Several friends were present through the same tastings and had the same experience. I don’t know if that’s bottle variation (they make a lot of this, I believe) or just the way is shows on a particular night.

That’s exactly my take on this wine as well. I’ve been surprised to see some others disagree, but I guess our tolerances, even to huge amounts of American oak, vary. I don’t know how it could ever integrate.

The bottle I had was awful, horribly acid and almost undrinkable. One of the worst wines I’ve ever had. From the thread (see John’s post for a link) I got the impression that there is enormous bottle variation. I for one won’t buy from this producer again.

Yes. This is one of those cases where people don’t seem to be tasting the same wine, and it seems hard to imagine that their sensitivities can be so far apart - so it seems likely that they really aren’t all tasting the same wine.

Opened another last night…the oak was much less intrusive but still a bit too much, now I find the acidity is racing…giving it a bit of a bitter quality…add in some significant heat on the finish…though some time in the glass did help this wine

I have to admit I enjoyed the nose quite a bit, but I’m not sold on the quality here.

Just received some '98 904’s looking forward to trying these…planning on popping one next Sunday

Yes. Is anyone familiar with the winery? Do they have some kind of production problems, shoddy practices, not keeping things clean? Something goes wrong with many bottles, it would appear.

I don’t think the very oaky bottles reflect sloppy winemaking. I suspect it’s a matter of different lots and probably the very long tank aging on these old reservas. And, probably, to some extent, the same wine showing differently on different occasions.

It’s a shame none of us have noted lot numbers. It would be interesting to see if the differences reflect different bottlings or simply different bottles and settings.

My bottle wasn’t too oaky (or if it was, it was so masked by the other faults that I couldn’t tell). It was horribly acid, with only the barest hint of something in the background that might have made it drinkable (not good, just drinkable). This didn’t change over two days in the decanter.

IIRC there were other reports of bottles with similar serious problems. Hence my decision not to buy from them again.

Yes, I wish I would have thought to note the lot no., but sadly I didn’t.

Apart from your experience, all the comments I recall had to do with bottles that were oaky in the extreme, and others that were not.

This thread prompted me to open a bottle, as I have had many wonderful bottles of La Rioja Alta’s older vintages, especially their 890 and 904 gran reservas. There apparently is great variation with the '01 Vina Ardanza Reserva Especial, as the bottle I drank last night was sound, but quite different from the Vina Ardanza’s in past vintages. An expressive nose of coffee, leather and coconut. Mouthfilling with bracing acidity and a good whack of oak - too much oak for me. I seem to recall reading that La Rioja Alta’s winemaker aged the Vina Ardanza Reserva Especial in French oak as an “experiment.” This may explain the pronounced coffee aroma in the bottle I drank last night. This is not a pop and pour wine. I gave it three hours and it opened and softened enough to be somewhat enjoyable, although I much prefer the traditional style. Might the '01 Vina Ardanza be a movement toward a more modern style from this stauch traditionalist?

I know there is too much chatter about this wine. Perhaps the power of suggestion, but the next to last bottle of this I had showed rich fruit but perhaps a tad more oak than I would prefer, and I consider myself rather sensitive to oak but not doctrinaire. Then last sunday, I had a glass with a friend who is more sensitive to oak than I in general and he got oak and I did not. So, agreeing with John, are there different lots of this floating around, given the high production. In any event, at good customer pricing this wine remains a staggeringly good value, perhaps best served with your less discerning friends?

Marc - Did Rocky find it woody as well?

Isn’t part of the problem here that in Rioja, sweet oak characteristics are part of the “traditional” profile, whereas in most other regions we associate sweet oak (eg. vanilla) with more modern wines? I had this wine twice and liked it quite a bit. It reminded me a bit of '70s Riojas that I drank in the '80s. Most of those wines had that characteristic oaky signature.

Had a bottle at a restaurant a couple weeks ago and found it to be very good. Did not find it overly oaky at all. I’ve always had a soft spot for American oak (RIdge santa cruz was my original epiphany wine) so perhaps that made it less intrusive to my palate.

Craig and Ethan – It wasn’t that the oak was unpleasant. But it clobbered you over the head. It was exaggerated in a way I don’t think I’ve ever experienced, and others I tasted it with had the same reaction. I kind of liked it, but also thought it would be good for a wine course to show people what American oak tastes like.

I did a bit of research, I found this and the first one here, two reports that seem consistent with mine. There may well be others in the CT thread, I didn’t read it very far. Pickles forever!! [snort.gif]