Wine of the Week #1546: La Rioja Alta 2001 Gran Reserva 890

[ 2001 La Rioja Alta Gran Reserva 890 ]

PROFILE | La Rioja Alta S.A.

PURCHASE | La Rioja Alta Gran Reserva 890

[ Why We Love It: ]

This wines is composed of a blend of Tempranillo (95%) from 40+ year old vineyards across 3 municipalities in the Rioja Alta and Graciano (3%) as well as Mazuelo (2%) from 3 different single vineyard plots. All of the fruit used to produced La Rioja Alta Gran Reserva 890 come from estate vineyards. The layering of flavours accomplished by blending of these varied terroirs joins forces with an exceptional growing season to yield a monumental expression of La Rioja Alta Gran Reserva 890.

The significant shifts from day to night temperatures – which characterized the 2001 growing season – ensured steady and even ripening and allowed for longer than normal hang time leading to outstanding ripeness and complexity. These ideal growing conditions yielded tiny berries – and in turn, remarkably concentrated and complex fruit.

Rioja Alta Gran Reserva 890 is only produced in extraordinary vintages, and while many make claims like this, La Rioja Alta walks their talk – having only produced Gran Reserva 890 in 9 of the last 35 years. Upon arrival at the winery in small refrigerated tubs following harvest meticulous hand selection eliminates all but the finest fruit from entering this cuvée. Fermentation followed its normal course through a cold winter after the 2001 harvest. Once fermentation was completed, a second round of selection was carried out to pick the finest components that would be laid down for an additional 6 years aging in American oak – 20% new and 80% 4 year old barrels.

La Rioja Alta S.A. continues to fabricate its own barrels in-house, thus ensuring a consistency and standard unique to this producer. The wine remained in barrel until early January 2009 – and was racked every 6 months using the traditional “barrel to barrel” method. Additional selections were carried out barrel by barrel during the 12 rounds of racking conducted before the wine was eventually bottled in March 2008. Final production of 15,900 bottles were allowed to rest (in bottle) before the wines were released to market.

[ Price: ]

BOTTLE: $255

CASE: $765


[ Technical Specs: ]

ALCOHOL: 13.5%


Case Pack: 3 x 750mL

GRAPES: 95% Tempranillo, 3% Graciano & 2% Mazuelo

[ Recipes & Food Pairings: ]

Grilled Beef Shortribs w/ Sesame-Chipotle Mole – RECIPE

Lamb Meatballs w/ Foie Gras, Pecorino & Mint Sauce – RECIPE

Beef Tenderloin w/ Rosemary Cream & Fresh Horseradish – RECIPE

[ Tasting Notes: ]

“2001 is a great vintage for all the wines from La Rioja Alta but the long-awaited 2001 Gran Reserva 890 is otherworldly. 2001 was a slow maturing vintage which produced smaller grapes especially in the old vineyards on the slopes of the Sierra Cantabria in the villages of Brinas, Labastida and Villalba where the vineyards that make it into this wine are located. The final blend contains a majority of Tempranillo with 3% Graciano and 2% Mazuelo. The wine ferments with the natural yeasts attached to the grapes in stainless steel vats and is aged for six years in used American oak barrels with 12 manual rackings. A selection of the best barrels were blended together and bottled unfiltered in March 2008. Only 15,000 bottles were produced. It shows (even) younger and more concentrated than the 2004 904, a darker shade of red and a somehow backward and reticent nose (relatively speaking) of forest floor, cold bonfire, antique shop, truffles, game, sandalwood, nutmeg and clove. The fruit is also a little darker and the palate more austere, but still showing vibrant and supple, with clean flavors and a great finish. This is my favorite modern time 890. Bravo! Drink 2016-2026.”

95/100 Points

Luis Gutierrez /

Ruby-red with an intense orange rim, medium-depth, clean and bright. Very intense aromas with a classic bouquet with outstanding balsamic and spicy notes —coconut, vanilla and chocolate mints wrapped in hints of ripe fruit. Great body and structure in the mouth, with balanced tannins of exceptional elegance and finesse, leaving a very long, spicy, complex aftertaste. A unique La Rioja Alta Gran Reserva 890 which looks forward to a long life in the bottle.

Winemakers Notes

Wine of the Week #1517: 2001 La Rioja Alta Gran Reserva 890

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More about Andrew Hanna

Pulling corks and pushing cases as a third generation wine importer in Ontario, Canada selling fine wines and spirits produced by families - not factories. Get the full story at

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