(2022) Made like a Cru Classe according to Jean-Marc, old vine Tempranillo is over 80 years old, the wine aged 15 months in French oak. Beautiful nose, with Sandalwood and cedar over plush black fruit, masses of ripeness and creaminess, violet and delicious fudge-like notes. The palate carries on that theme, mouth-filling and substantial, yet great juiciness, the lemony juiciness of the acidity cutting through the fruit density, oak and tannins of the finish.
(2022) A blend of mostly Tempranillo with 17% Graciano and 3% Garnacha, aged 14 months in 225-litre barrels (50/50 American and French Oak). Saturated and deep in colour, the nose is a beguiling melange of cedar and Sandalwood with very deep and luscious blue-black berry fruit, plenty of spice and hints of a cherry brightness. The palate shows a similar balance of deep, supple black fruit and those quite exotic spice characters, plenty of savoury oak and acidity extending the finish.
(2021) Some age on the colour here in a classic Rioja from La Rioja Alta, aged for two years in American oak, from new to four-year-old barrels. Sensuous Sandalwood, cedar and vanilla aromas, touched with coconut and with a depth up creamy black fruit. Smooth and elegant on the palate, its all about that creamy black fruit, tobacco spices and the depth of chocolate and vanilla. Long and lovey.
(2020) Very much 'modern' Rioja this, creamy, minty, chocolaty and bold, but putting the ripe black fruits centre stage. Extended ageing in oak (I'd guess mainly French) has smoothed and polished both the flavours and texture, the palate sensuous, sweet and deeply-fruited, firm, but very finely-grained tannins and generous, juicy acidity make it both structured and eminantly drinkable - now or in 10 years. £20 as part of a mixed six bottles.
(2017) From La Rioja Alta's bodega in Alavesa, a fabulous Rioja Reserva that is plush and modern in style, driven by a welterweight of black fruit against creamy, indulgent oak. It is Tempranillo with just 5% Mazuelo, aged in French and Caucasian oak barrels for 18 months. Though Sandalwood and clove, and all sorts of exotic spice join the deep pool of black fruit, there's a firm cherry juiciness to the acidity here, and very fine, elegant tannins that give it lovely length. A supremely refined modern Rioja. Note it's big brother, the Martelo Reserva 2012 is just fabulous, but at almost twice the price. Watch the video for details and food-matching suggestions.
(2017) The 75th anniversary release of this wine (the 1942 was the first release) which blends Tempranillo with around 20% Garnacha from Ardanza's own vineyards. Three years ageing in barrel gives minty chocolate notes, tobacco spices and exotic Sandalwood over elegant berry fruit, just edged with a gamey, cedary touch. In the mouth it delivers a big, personality-packed mouthful of ripe, plush, expansive berry fruit, but the elegance is undeniable again, a certain firmness to the cherry acidity, a bite of bittersweet cocoa and plum, and the swirl of toast and smoke into the long finish. Classic and utterly delicious. For more information and food-matching suggestions, please watch the video.
(2017) From one of the iconic names of Rioja, this is ripe and rich, the tawny rim of age on the colour, the open and oxidative complexity against tobacco and cocoa and pert red berry fruitiness. The palate has a racing freshness - zero weight here, gravity-defying freshness and crunch in another terrific López de Heredia wine. Also in Waitrose Cellar a couple of pounds cheaper.
(2016) Under sixteen pounds is a great price for this, from an excellent Rioja vintage. If you like the traditional Gran Reserva opulence this will not disappoint, and yet it is a modern interpretation, tight and sinewy, with tension and structure replacing the oak vanilla and spice, but delicious concentration of dark, cocoa-touched fruit. Good length, a juicy cherry lift of acidity and gentle tannin structure suggests this will cellar well through 2020.
(2014) A modest 13% alcohol here in a very different Rioja that is bold, meaty, gamy stuff, loads of character and tobacco-scented nuances, with elegant spicing, a hint of vanilla, and lots of lift, life and charm. The palate has real juiciness, a mature, game-touched, earthy and soft appeal, perhaps autumn to the Gavilan's summer?