At Atlas, we get the chance to taste wines offered to us as a parcel and, frankly, they often do not pass muster.
A recent tasting of 1998 Viña Albina Rioja Gran Reserva, however, proves that you can strike it lucky. This unusual opportunity to access a parcel of mature Rioja at a great price was too good to miss, and so we are pleased to offer the 1998 Viña Albina Rioja Gran Reserva at £250 per twelve bottle case in bond. At the equivalent price of £27.50 on the table, it is something of a bargain. With delivery available from November, it will drink well over Christmas and will easily cellar for a few years.
Viña Albina Gran Reserva 1998 was made by Bodegas Riojanas, a longstanding estate in the heart of Rioja Alta. Founded by the Artacho family in 1890, it is now a very large publicly quoted company and, in recent years, it has become too focused on the volume-based market for our tastes.
The quality of their wines from the 1980s and 1990s is, however, exceptional in terms of value. It is always fascinating to compare Rioja; the more modern fruit forward styles to the more traditional wines. The Viña Albina Gran Reserva 1998 certainly belongs in the latter camp. Aged 30 months in American oak, then bottled and aged for 36 months before release, it is a benchmark for the traditional style; it is open, rich aromas of spice and red fruits, with all the satisfying complexity that years of ageing in oak and bottle bring.
We tasted the 1998 in the office last month along with the 2001 vintage. It is interesting to note that on paper the latter should have the edge of the two vintages, rated as an ‘Excelent’ year by the regional authorities due to a near perfect growing season. The larger-yielding 1998 vintage (merely rated ‘Very Good’) was a little trickier, with many producers forced to harvest early due to September rain. Top producers had little pressure to rush, and estates like Bodegas Riojanas simply waited to take advantage of the dry, sunny conditions of an Indian Summer. Based on our recent tasting, it was certainly the 1998 that impressed. We include a note by Victoria Stephens-Clarkson MW, Atlas’ buyer, as well as Josh Reynolds of Vinous below.
1998 Viña Albina Rioja Gran Reserva at £250 per twelve bottle case in bond
Victoria Stephens-Clarkson MW
Viña Albina 1998 displays a dark ruby colour with the faintest touch of garnet that hints at the age this wine has already successfully achieved. Gentle notes of woodsmoke mix with red berries and mixed spice on the nose. With intense flavours of raspberry, truffles and cedar, the palate has integrated and mellowed over time, with tannins now firmly in the background and a rounded, fine feel to the finish. This has plenty of depth and richness to it… easy to drink, well-balanced and moreish. Drink now-2023
Josh Raynolds, Vinous, 92 points
Medium red. Captivating aromas of redcurrant, candied cherry, rhubarb, vanilla bean, cured tobacco, cedar, mocha and dried flowers. An elegant, suave midweight with wonderfully sweet, mellow red fruit flavors and an array of exotic spice accents. The supple, persistent finish features lingering cherry and red berry flavours.
Let us know at your earliest convenience of your interest.
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