"Older bottles of La Rioja Alta & Conde de los Andes were a great way to kick off our visit to Rioja."

I have been exploring the Rioja wine region in Spain this week with some friends.  We have had some great experiences, met some wonderful and generous people, and have drunk some amazing bottles of Rioja.  We enjoyed these two old school Rioja’s at Mesón Atamauri in Haro, Rioja.  They were both drinking amazingly, and were our first wines on our first night after a very long journey.  Mesón Atamauri is a classic Riojan restaurant in the heart of Haro.  They are known for their tapas, though we had dinner there (Jamon Serrano and Pork Confit!) and they have a great cellar of Rioja wines at very good prices, especially by U.S. standards! We had the La Rioja Alta 1997 Gran Reserva 904 first and it was one of the best bottles of Rioja I have had.  It was really pure classic Rioja, with a great mix between subtle cherry fruit turning to leather, mushrooms, and cedar.  What a great way to start the trip.  We asked the waiter if he had an old Rioja tucked away down in the cellar for a second bottle.  And he did!  He brought up a bottle of Conde de Los Andes 1989 Gran Reserva.  It was quite a cool looking old dirty bottle on the outside but tasted amazing as well.  Very elegant and balanced, a classic bottle of Rioja.  Both the bottles confirmed our love for Rioja wines and certainly validated our traveling such a long way.  And they were certainly a great start for what turned out to be a great wine experience.  Look for further installments from the road very soon… Cheers!