La Rioja Alta Rioja Gran Reserva 904 2011

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The 2011 La Rioja Alta Gran Reserva 904 Tinto pours a glass that is medium-high in depth, cherry–red with a garnet rim. Very intense in aromas. Complex, with notes of plums and ripe grapes, jam of blackberries and red raspberries that give way to spicy and balsamic notes of tobacco leaves, cedar, licorice, vanilla, chocolate and ground coffee. Good entry. Fresh and balanced, with polished, silky tannins and a gentle, delicate finish. Long aftertaste, with balsamic notes of coffee and toasted caramel, candied fruits and licorice.

96 James Suckling - Lovely dried red fruit, such as plums with just a hint of prunes. Cedar, walnut and leather undertones. Full-bodied with lots of fruit, considering its age, as well as hints of smoke, tobacco, bark and black tea. Some balsamic at the finish. Traditionally styled with lovely results. Drink or hold.
 
94 Vinous - The 2011 Rioja Gran Reserva 904 has been one of my go-to cuvées since my earliest days as a wine lover. This latest release is a blend of 60-year-old Tempranillo from Briñas, Rodenzo and Villalba (89%) and the remainder Graciano from the Montecillo vineyard. Fully de-stemmed and aged for 54 months in American oak, it was bottled in November 2016. This is more reticent and less forthcoming on the nose compared to the Viña Ardanza, gradually unfolding to reveal enticing scents of raspberry, crushed strawberry, warm leather, terra cotta and a touch of meat juice. This needed more decanting than the Ardanza. The palate is beautifully balanced with fine-grained tannins, and ultra-smooth in terms of texture. Layers of red fruit laced with clove, sprigs of fresh mint and blood orange dovetail into a soy-tinged finish that you expect to fan out, though it declines; it needs maybe another 12–18 months to really show what it is capable of. Magnificent.
 
94 Decanter - Oak and red fruit nose. The palate has mouth-watering acidity, fine-grained/well-knit tannins and notes of citrus peel, spice and baked brambles. Long finish.
 
94 Robert Parker's Wine Advocate - I usually prefer the 904 to the 890, but there will be no Gran Reserva 890 until the 2010 vintage (from the last vintage I tasted, 2005). So, the only one of the extended-aging Haro-style reds I tasted this time was the 2011 Gran Reserva 904, which had a hard act to follow after the 2010 vintage. It's a blend of 89% Tempranillo and 11% Graciano matured in American oak barrels for four years, and it was racked eight times from barrel to barrel during its élevage, which sounds a bit harsh for a vintage like 2011 when the wines were not as complete and robust as in 2010. It has the classic profile, aromas and flavors (decayed leaves, tobacco, sweet spices, a meaty touch and some black fruit), but the oak seems to take a more leading role and the palate feels less juicy. It finishes dry.
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