Fine, mature Rioja

Viña Ardanza, Bodegas La Rioja Alta, Reserva 1996  ****

Bodegas La Rioja Alta make some of the finest traditional Riojas that combine the elegance of Tempranillo fruit with age. Despite the many changes in the region since I first came to know it in the mid-1980s La Rioja Alta have built on and maintained their very individual house style without cutting any corners.  Mid-deep with a brick red / amber rim; lovely, scented fruit embellished by savoury - leather oak, an exquisite combination; soft, elegant sweet fruit, supple and  refined with great balance and poise, slightly dusty tannins, a touch of tobacco but not drying out. Very fine. 18

Scoring

19 - 20 An outstanding wine (*****)

17 – 18 An excellent wine in its class, highly recommended (****)

15 - 16 A good wine, with much to recommend it (***)

13 - 14 An enjoyable but simple, straightforward wine (**)

10 – 12 A very ordinary wine without faults but with no great merit (*)

8 - 10 Disagreeable (no stars)

Below 8 Faulty