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In the elegant framework of the restaurant Wolfgang Puck at the Bel-Air Hotel, several somms, restaurant owners and wine buyers, as well as a few wine writers, were invited to learn about Vina Ardanza, celebrate in their 75th anniversary, taste vintages dating back to 1989 and enjoy a multi-course luncheon. (Hyperlink to photos from the event can be seen here.)

La Rioja Alta Celebrates Vina Ardanza

Mr. Guillermo de Aranzabal Agudo of La Rioja Alta and others shared some of the history of Vina Ardanza with guests at the event:

  • They “follow trends, not fashion” which is why their wines are aged for eight years before release.
  • Their price point has been reasonable year after year.
  • Grapes are hand picked, barrels are from American oak and constructed by the winery.
  • They are now on the third generation of employees.
  • They only work with select distributors.
  • 1970 was the first of many highlighted vintages to come.
  • Ninety percent of the profits stay in the winery.
  • Learn more about Vina Ardanza here.

Tasting

Though I was a wee bit distracted seeing Chef Wolfgang Puck and Valentino Santa Monica owner Piero Selvaggio, I was able to give full attention to the wines that were shared.

Aromas and Flavors separated by ;

 

Mystery Wine

We had one sample that didn’t have a description. It turned out to be a 2012 Riserva not yet released. I got aromas of earth, mushroom, dried dark cherry and cigar; the mouth was a bit tart but still earthy with that same dried red fruit.

 

Vina Ardanza 1989

70% Tempranillo, 25% Garnacha, 5% blend of Mazuelo and Graciano

13.5% alcohol

What a treat to have an older vintage. Both the 1989 and 1994 (tasted below) were browner in color, indicative of age and nothing else. Aromas of plum, raisin, dried leaves, stewed fruit and pipe smoke; yummy red to blue fruit on the palate as well as bolder fruits – some tart – that provided a very long finish.

 

Vina Ardanza 1994

75% Tempranillo, 25% Garnacha

13% alcohol

Stewed plum, forest floor, mushroom and a gamey quality; then came dark fruit, but brighter than I expected it to be for its age, and many layered.

 

Vina Ardanza 2000

75% Tempranillo, 25% Garnacha

13-14% alcohol

This newer vintage had the same stewed fruits, a hint of raspberry, cherry and white pepper; on the palate the fruit was bright, mostly red fruit and a bit milder of the wines I had sampled so far.

 

Vina Ardanza 2001 Reserva Especial

80% Tempranillo, 20% Garnacha

13.5% alcohol

Both red and black cherry greeted my on the nose, followed by stewed vegetables, rich and velvety; the flavor was full bodied, more blue to black fruit and youthful.

 

Vina Ardanza 2004

80% Tempranillo, 20% Garnacha

13.6% alcohol

Lush red fruit on the nose as well as cigar, dark chocolate and a pungency that hinted at a bold taste; it was bright on the palate, with lovely vanilla notes, balanced.

 

Vina Ardanza 2008

80% Tempranillo, 20% Garnacha

13.5% alcohol

Rich blackberry, fragrant – almost as if someone had lit an incense stick in the room – and a bit of mint followed; though young the fruit was black and dark, and also with hints of dried red berry.

Menu

Beginning with beautifully plated hors d’oeuvres while we visited with other guests, we knew then we were in for something extraordinary. The menu at each place setting didn’t disappoint when they were served: Our first course was Sorpressine Tortelloni Pasta made with Maine Lobster, Chanterelle Mushrooms, Brown Butter, “Vina Ardanza” reduction, Australian Black Truffles. The second course was Oakwood Grilled Sonoma Lamb with Ragout of Summer Shelling Beans and Natural Jus. Third up was the Composed Plate of Queso and Wolfgang Puck Bon Bons. The final was titled “Concord Grape” that included Dulce De Leche Custard and Frozen Pavlova.

Thanks to Mike Miller of Golden State Wine, a 30+ year old company that imports these and other select European fine wines.

Eve Bushman has a Level Two Intermediate Certification from the Wine and Spirits Education Trust (WSET), a "certification in first globally-recognized course" as an American Wine Specialist ® from the North American Sommelier Association (NASA), Level 1 Sake Award from WSET, was the subject of a 60-minute Wine Immersion video, authored “Wine Etiquette for Everyone” and has served as a judge for the Long Beach Grand Cru. You can email Eve@EveWine101.com to ask a question about wine or spirits. You can also seek her marketing advice via Eve@EveBushmanConsulting.com