This monumental wine is one of the icons of Alavesa, Rioja and Spain. It is endlessly complex, elegant, sophisticated and rewarding. Red fruits, spice and notes of summer flowers decorate this sensational wine. Reserved for Grand Occaisions, it is one of the wines that you'll remember and want to return to as often as you can manage it.
The Viña Real Gran Reserva has stood out as one of the great classics of Rioja Alavesa (and indeed Spain) for several decades at this point, and it's easy to see why.
In the vineyards, they have smaller plots specifically reserved for their Gran Reserva, at higher altitudes between 500 and 650 metres to gain full ripeness and retain freshness. It's made up of 95% Tempranillo and 5% Graciano. All Viña Real wines are made from grapes grown in the Rioja Alavesa subregion. This is a farming area where farming is almost exclusively dedicated to growing grapes. And it has been this way for generations. The Gran Reserva grapes are sourced exclusively from Viña Real's own vineyards in Laguardia and Labastida.
Ageing is carried out in new, single-use oak barrels, where the wine rests for an average of 24 months. Once in the bottle, the texture and characteristic roundness comes after a minimum resting period of three years, which is the legal minimum. And that's just for starters, the Viña Real Rioja Gran Reserva will continue to develop (and reward your patience) for decades. Yes, one for now, and a few more for 20 years hence, if you can resist it for that long...
The Vina Real winery building is very new and very modern. It is situated on the top of a hill and is then dug into the hill by at least fifty metres. Grapes arrive at the top of the hill and are hoisted above the crushing tanks, from where the juices flow to the fermenting vessels below and from there to the aging barrels in the caves underground.
Except for the lighting, there is no electricity used in the winemaking process in the entire building - no pumps, no churning, nothing.
This sustainable approach is part of the gentle and elegant style that the winery achieves in its wines and was unique in Rioja when the winery was built (it's now THE template for new wineries in the region!). You'd spot it a mile away if you were in the area: it's high up, big, metal, shiny and red.
95 points from Tim Atkin; 95 points Decanter magazine.
Grape(s): Tempranillo, Graciano
Style: Vibrant, Svelte, Structured, Smooth, Profound, Med, Intense, Fruity, Fresh, Elegant, Complex, Bright
Best food matches: Poultry, Mature Cheeses, Lamb, Game, Fine Dining