Every time I open a bottle of wine from La Rioja Alta I am reminded that they are not only one of my favorite bodegas in Rioja, but one of the finest in the world.  The level of character and consistency is to be admired and trusted.  These facts were confirmed when I recently checked in on two favorites from La Rioja Alta:  Viña Ardanza 2000 and Viña Alberdi 2005.

La Rioja Alta 2000 Viña Ardanza, Reserva ~$28.97

While a lot of attention has been placed on the 2001 Viña Ardanza due to its Especial status, it would be a shame to have overlooked the utterly classic 2000.  It is drinking at a peak level right now, whereas the 2001 needs a good decade to reach maturity.  Just a classic Rioja nose of dark tart fruits, mixing with La Rioja Alta signature notes of mushroom, black tea, and tobacco.  The acidity is still zippy and it is lite on the palate.  There is not much left on the market, but it available for under $30 at PJ Wines.  HIGHLY RECOMMENDED – CLASSIC

La Rioja Alta 2005 Viña Alberdi, Reserva ~$15.47

The last time I checked in on the 2005 Viña Alberdi I didn’t think it had quite gotten it’s La Rioja Alta character on yet.  I am now happy to report that it has arrived.  Though billed as a Reserva, this is La Rioja Alta’s Crianza wine; a wine meant for tapas.  But it has enough stuffing and character to blow away most of the Crianza competition out of the water.  The classic La Rioja Alta nose is emerging, with tart dark fruits, hints of tea and mushroom, decent acidity and sheer drinkability.  That fact that it can be had for the paltry sum of $15.47 from PJ Wines, and under $20 in most other venues, makes it one of the finest values in Rioja.  HIGHLY RECOMMENDED – EXCELLENT VALUE