Rioja has been making a big splash again this past week with after Eric Asimov over at the New York Times chimed in on Rioja’s value and ageability.  Let’s hope this does not signal the end of affordable prices on classically styled Rioja wines.  But if the Bodegas Riojanas Viña Albina 2001 Gran Reserva is any indication then classic quality and affordability are alive and well in Rioja.  With that in mind I set about trying the current release of Viña Albina 2001 Gran Reserva.  I have had Viña Albina Gran Reserva from 1978 and 1998, and I can happily say the 2001 falls into the classic Rioja realm.  It would have been impossible to make bad wine in 2001 as it is rated as one of the best vintages in Rioja history, but the real deal here is that the wine remains classic without nods to modernization.  The alcohol is a very respectable 13%, and there is no overt oak character or over extracted fruit.  That the wine can be had for the paltry sum of $32.00 at PJ’s Wine qualifies it as a very sweet deal indeed.  Stay tuned for more new Rioja samplings very soon as Rioja fever grips the nation.

Bodegas Riojanas, Viña Albina 2001 Gran Reserva ~ $32.00

Medium garnet in color, there is an emerging classic Rioja nose going on in the 2001 Viña Albina Gran Reserva.  Tart dark red fruit turns to sweet strawberries with air, and there are notes of pepper and mushroom tea just barely beginning to show.  Acidity is solid and tannins moderate.  While this is certainly lovely now, I would give it another 5 years to really come into it’s own and then it seems like it will go for another 25 years after that.  Another rock solid 2001 Rioja.  Price is very reasonable to boot.  Purchased at PJ Wines.  HIGHLY RECOMMENDED – EXCELLENT VALUE