I don’t normally go out of my way to write about any particular winery, but I was introduced to these wines several years ago and EVERY bottle I have tasted since has ranged from very good to spectacular. Disclosure: I have NOT been paid by any winery, broker, or distributor regarding this article.
This winery has a few different labels: Vina Alberdi, Vina Ardanza, Vina Arana and the flagship Gran Reservas – 890 & 904. The Alberdi has a street value of about $20-25 and the Ardanza and Arana are any where from $35 to $45/750ml. I have tasted the Ardanza and Arana in the past. Also beautiful wines, but different due to the varying varietal blends and the different aging profiles of Reserva and Gran Reserva. These other two wines represent outstanding value with exceptional quality too. The last two are much more expensive and represent their premium tier. If your not familiar with the Spanish aging classification system, see this link for an explanation: Spanish Wine Classification System.
I am done with over-extracted, high-alcohol fruit bombs from the Napa Valley floor and have moved up to the Napa mountain locations. I am also finding that Bordeaux is now going down that path too. In the past, I was able to find reasonably priced Bordeaux wines that were dependably lighter in body, but lately, not as much. This has led to too much wine poured down the drain. So, when I find wines like this, I want to share the info with other Old World style wine enthusiasts. This winery is no new player on the scene (established in 1890) and if any of you have explored Spanish wines, you will have run across them. I wanted to post this piece, because I feel it is my duty to amplify the word about cooler climate style wines, as they are not always easy to find in the U.S. On that topic, I usually prefer Spanish wines from the North-Western Rioja region, but especially the Rioja Alta around the Oja River Valley where the vineyards have some elevation. If you like more structure (especially acidity), keep an eye out. 2,000-3,000 ft. with a southern exposure is a good place to start. Much higher in this area and the fruit does not ripen properly.
I am rating this wine a bit higher than others, likely due to my preference for bright, fresh fruit. I am not a big fan of red wines with candied, jammy, or stewed fruit flavors. In particular, those wines that are strong with black currant, prune, or fig type flavors.
(I have discontinued my practice of scoring wines. Now, I rate wines as: poor, barely drinkable, drinkable, superior and excellent.)
2018 Vina Alberdi Crianza (Labeled Reserva in the U.S.)
Variety: 100% Tempranillo
Region: Rioja, Sub-Region: Rioja Alta
Tasting Note: Aromatic nose of sweet, fresh red fruit, oak, vanilla and earth. The wine is medium bodied, with high acidity and med+ soft tannin. Fruit-forward palate of fresh red and black cherry, black tea and olive tapenade, but not overly extracted. Mid-palate introduces the vanilla and oak and moves to a long earthy finish. Very well made and nicely balanced. Plenty of structure to pair well with red meat and red sauces, but fruit-forward enough to handle lighter fair such as pork, or cream sauces. This is still a young wine and could handle another 3-5 years of bottle age to integrate the oak more… and will improve. If you enjoy Old World style structure in a lighter bodied wine without overwhelming alcohol, at this price… this wine could easily be your go-to.