I just tasted this last week in NY and it is just like it always is, a superb wine of grace, complexity, density and length. The extended cellar bottle aging of 7+ years adds the perfect complexity and makes this probably the craziest value in all of the wine world.
La Rioja Alta's
Vina Ardanza 2010
Reserva Seleccion Especial
$29.99 on 6+ (code: Ardanza)
$32.99, bottle 1-6
* Tempranillo (80%)/Garnacha (20%) *
* Aged 100% in used American Oak barrels 2-4 years old *
If you are new to Vina Ardanza or are curious about what a wine with some proper cellar aging tastes like, this is your chance to do it in this great vintage( though this wine is great just about every year it is made!)
95 WA / 94WS / 96JS / 95TA
(critics' tasting notes below)
Tim Atkin MW 95
2010 was a "spectacular year", according to Julio Sáenz, and who am I to disagree? This classic Rioja combines Tempranillo from La Rioja Alta with 20% Garnacha from the Rioja Oriental and it's a beautiful red: aromatic, savoury and balsamic with deftly handled American oak and the freshness of a cool vintage. 2019-28.
Wine Advocate 95
2010 was a great vintage in Rioja in general and seems to be exceptional here, with a 2010 Viña Ardanza Selección Especial (what used to be Reserva Especial) that can challenge any of the recent vintages and hopefully can develop in bottle to reach the heights of years like 1973 or 1964. The wine is expressive, aromatic, very elegant and clean, with classical Rioja aromas of long aging in barrel and slow oxidation through the years in wood. The palate is polished and sleek but shows plenty of energy, with very fine, mostly resolved tannins and very good harmony and persistence. There is great complexity, and you could start smelling spice and smoke to move to earthy tones, hints of beef blood, cherries in liqueur, curry, diesel, old furniture and forest floor. A great Viña Ardanza! They have managed to produce 600,000 bottles of this—and apparently in one single lot. It was bottled in May 2015.
Wine Spectator 94
Polished and graceful, balanced and lively, this red offers cherry, dried strawberry, cedar, spice and vanilla flavors that mingle over light, firm tannins and orange peel acidity. The silky texture and juicy flavors find a graceful middle ground between the traditional and modern styles. Tempranillo and Garnacha. Drink now through 2025.
James Suckling 96
Dried cherries, cedar, sandalwood, tar, treacle tart, cinnamon and vanilla. Medium body, fine-grained and very silky tannins for a wine of almost 10 years of age, bright and transparent acidity and a long, very spicy finish. Like going back in time and touching an ornate tapestry. The texture is mesmerizing. Drink now.
Viña Ardanza, one of the most iconic and internationally recognized Rioja wines presents its new 2010 vintage. It is a highly anticipated launch, coming from one of the best vintages of the 21st century. In fact, La Rioja Alta, S.A. has decided to grant it the ‘Selección Especial’ category, only bestowed upon the mythical Viña Ardanza 1964, 1973 and 2001 vintages.
As the winemaker Julio Sáenz explains, “optimal weather conditions in 2010 were decisive in producing magnificent grapes with a perfect balance of all components”. It is a wine made with Tempranillo (80%) and Garnacha, which “we have been carefully selecting throughout the winemaking and aging process, choosing only those barrels that expressed greater aromatic intensity and typicity, a lively, fresh colour, great flavour complexity and laying down potential”.
The Technical Director at this Station District firm praises “its impressive development, maintaining its traditional spicy, balsamic character, while enhancing its aromatic intensity with red fruit to offer a very noticeable freshness and elegance”.
The new Viña Ardanza 2010 ‘Selección Especial’ will be marketed in more than 70 countries with a new packaging developed by the renowned agency Claessens International (London). The design recovers the wine’s traditional blue (Antique Teal) as a sign of respect for its heritage and authenticity, while giving it a timeless, contemporary elegance, in tune with the wine, the brand and its consumers across the world, who will enjoy a new vintage that has already been praised by the world’s leading influentials and tasters.
Although it had already been produced and marketed for a few years, the brand was officially registered on 28 September 1942 when, under the chairmanship of Leandro Ardanza. It takes the name of one of the five families who founded the winery in the Haro Station District in 1890.
The Phylloxera pest in the late nineteenth prompted the arrival of French vintners and winemakers, as Monsieur Albert Vigier in our case, and the construction of wineries in the proximity of the train station in Haro.
As a result of this strong bordelais influence, during the first decades, the new winemaking houses made their wines very much in the French style.
It was quite common for the labels on wine bottles to refer to the winemaking style: ‘Medoc Style’, ‘Sauternes Style’ or, like the first Viña Ardanza, ‘Burgundy Style’. Since that was in fact the winemaking style employed for this wine, a Burgundy bottle was chosen.
Viña Ardanza went on to become the wine that earned the most fame and popularity for La Rioja Alta, S.A. Over the years, it became an iconic brand and its intrinsic characteristics, originality and personality have always made it our winery’s benchmark. Today, Viña Ardanza is also one of the major international Rioja icons.
The history of Viña Ardanza is a success story. Probably, La Rioja Alta, S.A. would not hold its current place among the best wineries in the world without Viña Ardanza. It includes mythical vintages, like 1964, 1973 and 2001, exceptional vintages, like 1970, 1985, 1989,1995,1996, 2004, 2005, 2007, 2008... and, without a doubt, this new Viña Ardanza 2010 Selección Especial, yet another step in the evolution and brilliant track record of one of the most iconic of Spanish wines.
The current style of Viña Ardanza brings together characteristics that have remained unchanged from the start, coupled with countless innovations that have been gradually introduced to define its personality today.
• It is a wine that combines different varieties and plots. We blend wines with different characteristics To achieve the ‘burgundy style’ with great aging potential: on the one hand, elegant, refined Tempranillos, with great aging potential, medium structure and moderate alcohol content; and, on the other, Garnachas, powerful wines with a great structure.
• It is a typical Rioja blend, but the mix of varieties, percentages, terroirs, barrels and even how long it is aged, vary with each vintage.
• American oak has always been linked to the personality of Viña Ardanza. It provides distinctive nuances that connect with the profile of wines historically produced by our house.
• Like the other wines of Grupo La Rioja Alta, S.A., Viña Ardanza is not made every year. We only market vintages when both the Tempranillo and the Garnacha attain our quality requirements. This happens five or six times per decade.
Today, Viña Ardanza occupies a privileged place among the great Riojas because it has adapted to the times, following trends while avoiding fads. In recent decades, we have gradually introduced significant changes in vinification and aging that have served to define its current personality.
These innovations include:
- The removal of white grapes from the traditional Viña Ardanza red blend in the late 1980s was followed by the discontinuation of the Viña Ardanza Blanco Reserva in the early 1990s.
- Today, we only use grapes from our own vineyards. The 2008 harvest was the first in which 100% of the grapes came from estate-owned vineyards. We complement the Tempranillo from our La Cuesta (Cenicero) and Montecillo (Fuenmayor) vineyards with 20% Garnacha from La Pedriza (Tudelilla). Until then, the Garnacha employed in Viña Ardanza came from vineyards adjoining La Pedriza owned by trusted growers.
- ‘La Pedriza factor’. It is a unique seventy-hectare (173 acres) estate that is simply perfect for our Garnacha. Poor, well-drained soils, boulders, altitude, sun exposure, marked temperature differences between day and night... All of these factors provide optimal conditions so that the final blend with Tempranillo enjoys lively, fresh notes (increasing the aromatic intensity and providing a pleasant structure) and good body in the mouth, bringing spices and flavoursomeness to a longlasting aftertaste.
- Improved harvesting: The grapes have always been picked manually but now they are collected in small boxes and taken to the winery in refrigerated transport. Gentler handling ensures grape integrity and prevents oxidation.
- The winemaking premises in Labastida, inaugurated in 1996, marked a turning point in the production and aging of the wines of La Rioja Alta, S.A. State-of-the-art technology coupled with R&D projects has allowed us full control over all winemaking and aging processes.
- Optical grape sorting was employed for the first time for the 2015 harvest, with two sorting lines that optically scan each grape. This has undoubtedly resulted in a qualitative leap.
- Separate aging of Tempranillo and Garnacha with different aging times that are, in principle, 36 months for Tempranillo and 30 months for Garnacha. The final decision for each vintage is the winemaker’s.
- We manufacture our own barrels, directly importing the oak, which is specially selected by our technicians in the United States (Ohio and Kentucky) and naturally dried in our premises for two years. For us, it is essential that we control the quality of the wood, manufacture, toasting level, etc. of the barrels in which our wines will age.
- Notable rejuvenation of barrel stocks, seeking the highest quality. Today, the average age of the barrels used for Viña Ardanza is 4 years for the Tempranillo and 2-3 years for the Garnacha.
- We reduce the number of rackings, which are always carried out following traditional methods, to prevent ‘wine fatigue’ during the last stage of the barrel-aging process. The last rackings have been discontinued and the barrels are just topped up, to limit oxidation.